Fordham Law


Firing Squad Execution Set; More Humane Than Lethal Injection?

Deborah W. Denno in The Crime Report , June 17, 2010

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Thursday, June 17th, 2010 5:03 am

If he is executed tomorrow morning in Utah, Ronnie Lee Gardner will become the first person put to death by firing squad in the United States in 14 years, the Associated Press reports. Some experts argue it is more humane than all other execution methods, without the court challenges of cruelty that have been filed against lethal injection. “Lethal injection, which has the veneer of medical acceptability, has far greater risks of cruelty to a condemned person,” said law Prof. Deborah Denno of Fordham University.

University of Colorado law Prof. Michael Radlet has been tracking executions in the U.S. and found 42 cases that went wrong between 1982 and September 2009. Of those, 30 were by lethal injection, 10 were by electrocution and two were from asphyxiation after exposure to lethal gas. The firing squad has not been challenged, and by all accounts, Utah’s executions by firing squad were carried out without problems, Denno said. Gardner, 49, was sentenced to death for a 1985 fatal courthouse shooting of attorney Michael Burdell during an escape attempt.