Firing squad executions could come back to Florida

Firing squad executions could come back to Florida
Mickey Mouse, oranges, the Everglades and a gauntlet of gunfire at convicted criminals. Florida could be adding another gem to its list of Sunshine State exclusive if one Republican representative has his way.

GOP Rep. Brad Drake says that he is so “sick and tired of this sensitivity movement” that the state of Florida should revert back to the good old days when a prisoner could be berated with an onslaught of bullets instead of this silly “lethal injection” tomfoolery. So convinced is Drake that death by firing squad be reinstituted in the Sunshine State, he penned himself a bill that would bring that barbaric method of execution back to Florida.

To Drake, however, it shouldn’t stop with just a firing squad. If he had his druthers, and thank God he doesn’t, that would be child’s play.

"There shouldn't be anything controversial about a .45-caliber bullet,” Drake says in his statement favoring his newly-penned bill. “If it were up to me we would just throw them off the Sunshine Skyway bridge and be done with it.”

Florida famously used an electric chair lovingly referred to as “Old Sparky” all the way until 2000 when the US Supreme Court pressured them into signing in lethal injection as the officially means of killing criminals. In the years before the switch was made, Florida came under immense criticism for a series of botched executions at the hands of Ol’ Spark. Justice Leander J Shaw, Jr was so strongly opposed to keeping the electric chair executions on the books that in his opinion against the method of death, he attached a series of color photographs depicting the aftermath of the execution of Allen Lee Davis, graphically depicting the convicted killer bloodied and burned as a result of an electric chair execution.

Does that matter to Rep. Drake? “In the words of Humphrey Bogart (sic), ‘Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn,” the lawmaker says. “I am so tired of being humane to inhumane people,”

Now 20 years later, Drake says maybe Old Sparky should be plugged in yet again. That is, of course, if the state won’t pass his firing squad legislation.

"Over the past few weeks, there has been much discussion and debate regarding the effectiveness of certain medicines used as preferred method for execution," Drake says in a statement regarding his bill. "So, I say let's end the debate. We still have Old Sparky. And if that doesn't suit the criminal, then we will provide them a .45 caliber lead cocktail instead."

The debate that Drake refers to largely has to do with the foreign manufactures of the drugs used in lethal injection executions banning exports to American prisons. As a result, institutions in the US have been resorting to stockpiling pharmaceuticals and using other narcotics to knock-off prisoners. Recently many prisons have turned to using Nembutal, a drug used on animals, to execute prisoners.

Drake says he got the brilliant idea to bring back the firing squad after a constituent of his remarked in a local Waffle House diner, “You know, they ought to just put them in the electric chair or line them up in front of a firing squad.’”

After all, most great ideas do materialize over a plate of smothered hash browns and bacon.

Understandable, Drake’s bill has already found its opponents. "Just when you thought that public policy in Florida couldn't get worse, along comes a state rep who develops proposed legislation from what he overhears at the Waffle House," Howard Simon, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, tells The Associated Press. "Given all that former members of the Florida Supreme Court and the American Bar Association have said about Florida's broken death penalty system, including the nation's highest number of exonerations, this would be embarrassing – if our legislature were capable of embarrassment."

The Florida Legislature will consider the firing-squad bill when they start their 2012 session this upcoming January. This time the discussion is set to take place in the office buildings in the state capitol of Tallahassee, however, and not Waffle House this time.

Since the death penalty was reinstated in Florida in 1979, the state has executed 70 criminals, most recently convicted cop killer Manuel Valle, who was murdered by the state only last month.