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The Death Penalty: How And Why We Kill Now47:13
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Capital punishment by lethal injection may soon be impossible because of drug shortages. Firing squads are back on the table. We’ll look at how the way we execute affects our thinking about the death penalty.

In this file photo, a group of death penalty opponents hold a vigil outside St. Francis Xavier College Church hours before the scheduled execution of Missouri death row inmate Russell Bucklew Tuesday, May 20, 2014, in St. Louis. (AP)
In this file photo, a group of death penalty opponents hold a vigil outside St. Francis Xavier College Church hours before the scheduled execution of Missouri death row inmate Russell Bucklew Tuesday, May 20, 2014, in St. Louis. (AP)

The firing squad may be back in Utah soon to administer capital punishment. A target taped over the heart. Five shooters, the last time Utah did it. One with blanks, so no one knows who delivered the fatal shots. Bringing back the firing squad would put the US in the company of Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and Somalia on the execution front.  It’s on the table because Europe won’t even supply lethal drug cocktails anymore. Texas is down to its last dose. Americans struggle with the death penalty itself. This hour On Point: the death sentence.  How it gets done in the USA. And whether it should be done at all.
-- Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Jeff Guo, reporter for the Washington Post. (@_jeffguo)

Deborah Denno, professor of law at the Fordham University School of Law.

Robert Blecker, professor of law at New York Law School. Author of "The Death Of Punishment." (@robertblecker)

From Tom’s Reading List

Washington Post: Utah plans to bring back firing squads, but Oklahoma wants to try asphyxiating inmates with nitrogen — "As it becomes increasingly difficult to obtain the drugs needed for lethal injections, several states have sought to resurrect bygone ways of killing death-row inmates. In Utah, which outlawed death by firing squad in 2004, lawmakers voted last week to reinstate that execution method should the state run out of drugs for lethal injection."

Pew Research Center: Support for death penalty drops among Americans -- "While a majority of Americans (55%) favor the death penalty for persons convicted of murder, according to a 2013 Pew Research survey, that number has declined significantly over the last two decades. In 1996, about three-quarters of the U.S. public (78%) favored capital punishment. Meanwhile, the share of those saying they oppose the death penalty has risen from 18% in 1996 to 37% in 2013."

KY3: Arkansas lawmakers consider expanding, eliminating death penalty — "While the state Supreme Court looks at whether an existing death penalty law is constitutional, two legislators are calling for changes. Neither of the ideas has picked up the endorsements they would need to make a change."

This program aired on March 18, 2015.

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