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Executions may head back in time

Execution alternativesMaryland repealed its death penalty last year and hasn’t carried out an execution since 2005, but for those states where capital punishment is still in effect — 32 of them — using lethal injection is becoming problematic.

The drugs are getting harder to obtain, so states could be returning to the electric chair, gas chamber or firing squad.

“This isn’t an attempt to time-warp back into the 1850s or the wild, wild West or anything like that,” Missouri state Rep. Rick Brattin, who this month proposed making firing squads (the setup for one in Utah is seen above) an option in his state, told the Associated Press. “It’s just that I foresee a problem, and I’m trying to come up with a solution that will be the most humane yet most economical for our state.”

Though some may recoil at Brattin’s use of “humane,” if the state is going to carry out executions, it could be that lethal injection really isn’t a humane way to do so. Earlier this month in Ohio, Dennis McGuire lay gasping on a gurney for 26 minutes before succumbing to injected drugs.

Then again, in some sectors of the public, there is no sympathy for any way that those usually convicted of horrific crimes are put to death, so we can expect legislation to reflect those feelings.

“Many of these politicians are trying to tap into a more populist theme that those who do terrible things deserve to have terrible things happen to them,” Michael Campbell, assistant professor of criminal justice at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, told the AP.

In three states — Delaware, New Hampshire and Washington — hanging remains an option should the condemned choose it. Delaware performed the last hanging in the United States, in 1996.