Iran: Annual report on the death penalty 2017

IRAN HUMAN RIGHTS (MARCH 13, 2018): The 10th annual report on the death penalty in Iran by Iran Human Rights (IHR) and ECPM shows that in 2017 at least 517 people were executed in the Islamic Republic of Iran. 
This number is comparable with the execution figures in 2016 and confirms the relative reduction in the use of the death penalty compared to the period between 2010 and 2015. 
Nevertheless, with an average of more than one execution every day and more than one execution per one million inhabitants in 2017, Iran remained the country with the highest number of executions per capita.
2017 Annual Report at a Glance:
At least 517 people were executed in 2017, an average of more than one execution per day111 executions (21%) were announced by official sources.Approximately 79% of all executions included in the 2017 report, i.e. 406 executions, were not announced by the authorities.At least 240 people (46% of all executions) were executed for murder charges - 98 more than in 2016.At le…

Firing squads to be used in upcoming Utah executions

The chair that convicts are strapped to before they are executed in Utah.
The chair that convicts are strapped to before they are executed in Utah.
As Arkansas rushes to execute several death row inmates due to execution drugs expiring soon, an even more macabre immorality is developing in Utah: 3 death row inmates have all elected to be killed by firing squad, a method that's still on the books as a sort of next resort if execution drugs are unable to be obtained in the appropriate amount of time. 

As manufacturers of propofol and other execution drugs refuse to sell to states as a stand against the death penalty, death by lethal injection becomes more difficult to pull off.

Utah's execution methods are actually quite complicated: in 2004, death by firing squad was overturned, as the Utah legislature cited the amount of attention drawn as creating difficulty for the affected families. Then, in 2015, this was partially changed. 

Now, if execution drugs are in short supply, firing squads can be used as a backup method. Furthermore, those sentenced to death before 2004 are grandfathered and can decide their execution method, if they so choose, according to the options available at the time of sentencing.

Taberon Dave Honie, Troy Michael Kell, and Ralph Leroy Menzies are all current death row inmates who have elected to die by firing squad. Although execution dates have not been set, many of them have been imprisoned for several decades. 

Convicted of heinous murders and rapes, these 3 men seem to have inflicted horrible pain on others. Still, why should we kill at all? Our justice system has overwhelming flaws, from lack of proper indigent defense to tainted appeals processes. It's crazy for us to openly acknowledge the error in the system and still put people to death. We need to stop pretending this is what dispensing justice looks like.

MuckRock recently obtained the Utah Department of Corrections' execution manual, detailing protocols currently in place. On the issue of government transparency, it's unbelievable that such a document wasn't public in the first place, but had to be obtained via FOIA request. Such a request was initially denied in 2015, but recently released.

The details outlined are grotesque, but the unfortunate standard in many states: 2 rounds must be loaded into each weapon, with 1 weapon shooting blanks. A target should be placed over the heart of the one being executed. There are countdowns and waiting periods and the last words are supposed to be recorded via audio, then destroyed within 24 hours of the execution. One can't help but think that if information like this were made more public, fewer people would be able to stomach the horror of the death penalty.

Some believe firing squads are more humane as lethal injection has been scrutinized due to the high prevalence of botched executions. Others argue that firing squads disallow us to be detached from the real matter at hand: the taking of a human life. For this reason, some death penalty abolitionists see firing squads as the easiest way of changing public opinion. The gruesome nature of firing squads reminds us that execution isn't some sanitized, near-medical procedure done by a phlebotomist in a dimmed room, but rather the killing of a human being.

Many scholars and activists think the recent controversy in Arkansas is bringing legal issues with the death penalty to light, exposing procedural problems and leaving pits in the bottoms of people's stomachs as they begin to realize what the death penalty looks like up close. Hopefully, as Utah's firing squads are examined further, people will begin to realize that our repugnant idea of justice needs to be reformed.

Source: deathandtaxesmag.com, April 29, 2017

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