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11 Jun, 2010 00:19

Inmate to be killed by firing squad in US

Death by firing squad may sound outdated, but it could happen to Ronnie Lee Gardner in the United States next week.

Gardner is a death row inmate in the US state of Utah, where, the use of a firing squad is still used to carry out the death penalty. Gardner himself picked the method over the alternative of lethal injection.

Utah, Idaho, and Oklahoma are the only three US states that have maintained the use of a firing squad to carry out the death penalty.

Anti-death penalty activist Rachel Moshman said there is no humane way to kill someone, and that the death penalty is both cruel and inhuman.

It [death penalty] is racist, it targets the poor, it’s not a deterrent to crime and it kills innocent people” said Moshman.

At least 35 US states still maintain the use of the death penalty as a punishment for criminals of certain offences.

Historically, firing squads were used to kill soldiers as an honorable way to die.

They say that the criminal inmates may use this as a way to go out as one last shout to the world before they go,” said Moshman.

Since the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976, 123 people were found to be innocent after they were placed on death row, proving the criminal justice system is an imperfect system.

Moshman argues that the system in place is also racist, and that it targets poorer communities most. African Americans represent 14% of the US population, but they represent 40% of the US death row population.

What’s the solution? “Abolishing the death penalty,” said Moshman.

Richard Dieter, the executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center argues that the use of a firing squad is outdated and that the death penalty in general disproportionally targets the poor communities and African American community.

Race plays a factor because race plays a factor in all of our social interactions. It’s part of our history and it intersects with economics. If you can’t afford a good lawyer, you’re in deep trouble,” said Dieter.

Dieter says the system makes mistakes. It is a human system and innocent people do end up on death row when they have committed no crime.

The system is in need of reform, likely the elimination of the death penalty to solve the problem or the acceptance by American society that innocent people may simply be “collateral damage” in a flawed system, said Dieter.

It’s unfair towards minorities, it’s costly, it’s time consuming, and the rest of the world is turning way from the death penalty. All of these things are like burdens on the death penalty which are moving it away from its use in the US. I think it will be abolished in the US,” said Dieter .