Criminal Justice

Louisiana Attorney General Wants State to Hurry Up on Executions—Even If That Means Using 'Hanging, Firing Squad, or Electrocution'

The death penalty may surface as a key issue in the upcoming gubernatorial election in Louisiana.


Wikimedia Commons

The death penalty is surfacing as a key issue in Louisiana's upcoming gubernatorial election, in 2019. With execution drugs unavailable, the state's top prosecutor is proposing the use of new drugs, nitrogen-induced suffocation, or "hanging, firing squad, or electrocution," if necessary.

Lousiana has not executed anyone since 2010 when Gerald Bordelon was killed by lethal injection after being convicted of the murder of his 12-year old stepdaughter. Since then, the state has amassed over 70 inmates awaiting execution on death row.

The state's lack of access to necessary drugs required for lethal injection remains the largest obstacle to carrying these executions out.

In Lousiana, lethal injection remains the only legal form of execution available. But obtaining execution drugs has become difficult, especially after the drug company Pfizer joined with European drug manufacturers to ban their product from being used for executions.

In 2016, Louisiana requested and was approved for an 18-month extension on the execution of Christopher Sepulvado—convicted for fatally scalding and beating his stepson in 1992—due to not having the necessary execution drugs.

Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick approved a year-long extension of execution delays after a request was filed by the state.

Defending his administration's request , Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) said in a tweet that Louisiana was limited by a "legitimate problem with accessing drug protocol."

Attorney General Jeff Landry
Wikimedia Commons

But Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry (R) is not convinced that the problem is legitimate, nor that a solution is really out of reach for Edwards. In a late July letter to the governor, Landry wrote: "If you truly respect the criminal justice system, the rule of law, and the rights of victims-there are a number of initial steps that can be taken".

Landry went on to recommend policy changes that would allow the usage of the drug midazolam, which has survived court challenges despite constant malfunctions. Additionally, he recommended that the state begin using the compounding capabilities of Angola, the prison facility where executions occur, to provide drugs while cooperating with the Department of Corrections "to avoid any pitfalls that may arise or to find other compounding pharmacies".

In 2014, Lousiana Department of Corrections contacted a compounding pharmacy but there remains uncertainty if any products were purchased.

Included with Landry's letter was draft legislation to expand the state's options for execution to include nitrogen hypoxia, an execution form that supposedly renders an inmate unconscious within moments, and eventually suffocates them. He goes on further to say that if that option is unavailable, then the method shall be by "hanging, firing squad, or electrocution, in the discretion of the Secretary of the Department of Corrections."

In an interview with Channel 33 in Baton Rouge, the governor expressed opposition to executions beyond lethal injections. "Hangings and firing squads? No," said Edwards. "I'm not inclined to go back to methods that have been discarded because popular sentiment turned against them, some methods deemed to be barbaric."

A potential candidate for governor in 2019, many speculate that Landry will use this issue to score points with the voters who desire a "tough on crime" candidate. This is one of many issues that Landry and Edwards disagree on and continue to battle with one another over.

Some, like New Orleans Advocate writer James Gill, find Landry's attempt to score political points with such an issue to be disrespectful and poor taste. "Landry wants to bring back hanging, that relic of America's days as a British colony," wrote Gill in his July 28 column.

"With polls showing a majority of voters in favor of capital punishment, Landry evidently thinks being gung-ho for carrying out death sentences will aid his gubernatorial aspirations" and "loses no opportunity to suggest Gov. John Bel Edwards is a wishy-washy liberal" on this issue, Gill continued.

Landry's actions might curry favor with the 58 percent of the Louisiana electorate that favors the death penalty. In May, a bill that would have abolished the death penalty in Louisiana failed to pass the Louisiana House of Representatives and did not make it beyond committee in the Louisiana Senate.

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  1. “We need to hurry and execute these guys! Particularly the innocent ones! If we mess around we might eventually be forced to let them go unexecuted!”

    1. Do you know what a pain in the ass all that paperwork is when they claim they’re “innocent” and want a “retrial”? Sheesh.

  2. “I’m not inclined to go back to methods that have been discarded because popular sentiment turned against them, some methods deemed to be barbaric.”

    Surely you’re not referring to ***glances around *** the boats!

    1. Is that worse than getting keelhauled?

  3. The death penalty is surfacing as a key issue in Louisiana’s upcoming gubernatorial election, in 2019. With execution drugs unavailable, the state’s top prosecutor is proposing the use of new drugs, nitrogen-induced suffocation, or “hanging, firing squad, or electrocution,” if necessary.

    Given how anti-death penalty activists are putting pressure on drug manufacturers to prevent their drugs from being used in lethal injection, his position makes a lot of sense and it wouldn’t surprise me if states which have capital punishment just start bypassing lethal injection altogether.

  4. If you are going to have the death penalty (which I am against), lethal injections are a very bad way to carry it out, given problems with accessing veins and preparing/administering drugs by poorly trained staff. I say just give ’em a bullet to the back of the head, or perhaps the most humane method ever: the guillotine. I don’t think the public would be at all squeamish about it, given their love of gore, and it could even be made into a reality show, where audience members compete to pull the trigger or throw the switch.

    1. There is a reality show on NATGEO called Life and Death Row or something like that. It is a series of one-hour documentaries on executions. It is utterly pornographic and exploitive but like all pornography, oddly compelling.

      It is a terrible thing. I don’t feel bad for the guys being executed. All of them are guilty of horrible crimes and are lucky to get a humane death. I feel terrible for their families and the families of the victims. The families of the victims show up to see the guy die and it never helps them. It doesn’t give them the closure they think it will.

      I have no problem with the death penalty. And if someone killed a loved one of mine, I would do the deed myself and not lose a minute of sleep over it. But, I can’t imagine going to see it happen. Why? If I am not the one doing it, what is the point of being there? That never made any sense to me.

      1. All of them are guilty

        Actually, no. There is in fact *no way* to be certain of this.

        1. Yes, there is. I am not saying that there haven’t been innocent people executed. There might have been. We do not know. But not knowing that doesn’t mean that we cannot say for certain that some or even most of the people who have been are guilty.

          1. Who gets executed has a lot more to do with where the crime is committed and the ability of the condemned to afford a decent lawyer than it does the atrocity of the crime. Prosecutors and judges who are elected also use it as a campaign tool, and of course, cops and the DAs in some places are infamous for planting evidence to win their case and send the convicted to death row. If there is any risk of an innocent person being executed, the government has no business doing so, even if there are some truly hideous criminals who may deserve it.

            1. That is why the death penalty doesn’t work in this country. The death penalty was originally used for deterrence. And it worked back when it was certain for a set of crimes. Once the courts said that it could no longer be an automatic death sentence to do a defined set of things, then the whole system stopped functioning as a deterrent. Now we just execute people that society for one reason or another hates and without any real rationality to it beyond that.

              I am a supporter of the death penalty but I absolutely loathe the way it is currently administered. We need to go back to a system where a few forms of murder are an automatic death penality. It should be felony murder, killing a witness, killing an LEO in the line of duty, and murder in connection with rape or home invasion. Those are things that the threat of an automatic death sentence would actually deter criminals. No one wants to turn a robbery or sexual assault into a death sentence. Also, no one wants to turn a traffic stop into one either. It would get criminals to stop and think and make their crimes less violent. As far as the LEO, make it an LEO in uniform who identifies himself. I am all for holding the police to a very high standard if they shoot someone. But the flip side of that ought to be that anyone who knowingly murders a cop needs to get the chair. Make having a badge and a uniform actually mean something and police and criminals alike will be a hell of a lot less likely to be violent.

              1. killing an LEO in the line of duty,

                Bootlicker. Shouldn’t be any different than killing a shoeshiner.

          2. doesn’t mean that we cannot say for certain that some or even most of the people who have been are guilty.

            Of course some or even most are guilty.

            I’m saying not all of them are. And if there is no way to be 100% certain you’re killing a guilty man, the state should not have that power.

            1. So the state should never have the power to kill someone,making them totally unable to suffer pain yet they should have the power to let you get raped in jail for 30 years while you were innocent. The anti death penalty people are so retarded.

          3. So are you sure that *all* of them guilty, or just “some or even most”? Because you just said two different things.

            Are you familiar with the Innocence Project? You do realize that it’s the state, the state’s prosecutors and judges and juries and criminal justice system, that run the death penalty procedure? And you trust these people?

            A few years back there was a case near me where a guy was arrested for raping and killing his own daughter, and despite the DNA evidence that seemed to exonerate him, the prosecutor still insisted he was guilty and wanted to go ahead with the prosecution. You know who the DNA evidence pointed to? A guy that lived near this guy. You know how they got the guy’s DNA? He was currently sitting in jail, arrested for raping and killing another little girl in the neighborhood. Think about that – the prosecutor not only has evidence that the guy didn’t rape and kill his own daughter, she has pretty damn good evidence of who did rape and kill the girl, and she still insisted she wanted this guy to face a capital murder charge. These are the sort of sick fucks you trust to always have the right man?

            1. So are you sure that *all* of them guilty, or just “some or even most”? Because you just said two different things.

              All of them on the show, not everyone sentenced to death in the entire country. Pay attention to the context you fucking half wit.

            2. The only good news is, that Chipper below manages to put up a dumber comment than yours. So, you are not the dumbest person posting on here, just number two. So there is that.

          4. ” I am not saying that there haven’t been innocent people executed. There might have been. We do not know.”

            Carlos de Luna, David Spence, Rueben Cantu, and Todd Willingham would like to have a word with you.

            And that’s just Texas…?..

            1. Those cases are nowhere near as clear as claimed. The guy in the arson case is the only one I have ever been convinced was likely innocent. The rest of them not so much.

              1. “The guy in the arson case is the only one I have ever been convinced was likely innocent. The rest of them not so much.”

                Willingham is “the arson guy”.

                Even the prosecutor who got the DP on Cantu admits that he was innocent in light of the information that has come out subsequent to his execution.

                de Luna is the most obviously innocent of the bunch.

      2. Executions were public events from the colonial period and up until the 1930s in some parts of the deep south. They were moved inside prisons because lots of people enjoyed watching them too much, and many would show up drunk for the occasion.

  5. What is wrong with firing squads? Are they not ‘dead dead’ if they get it via lethal injection? If you want to object to the death penalty, fine. But be honest about that. Don’t pretend that one method is somehow better than another in any significant way.

    The upshot of a firing squad is that it allows the prisoner to have the greatest last words ever; “shoot straight you bastards”. If I were going to be executed, that is how I would want to go.

    1. “What is wrong with firing squads?”

      Nothing when it comes to flying hundreds of thousands of soldiers to the other side of the planet to liberate a country from itself. But the guy who raped and murdered little Suzy on her way to school, he deserves to be treated in some special way they now refer to ‘humane.’

      Humane, it’s like being offended, you can use it to shut down anyone making sense with you FEELZ.

      1. Most people who die in wars suffer a much worse death than a firing squad.

    2. The whole point of injections was to make it look “clean”, like a hospital visit or something. Not messy.

      Agreed that if you support the death penalty (I don’t) the method should not matter.

      1. If we started drawing and quartering people, that would be a problem. But absent inflicting unnecessary suffering and pain, it really is all the same. You taking a guy out and killing him. Making it clean and medical doesn’t change that.

        1. Not a fan of the 8th Amendment, huh?

          1. I just explained how it can’t inflict unnecessary suffering. And the 8th Amendment was drafted at a time when capital punishment was practiced in every jurisdiction. Whatever it means, it is not and was never intended to be a prohibition on capital punishment. So, yes, I am a fan of the 8th Amendment.

            It is really kind of epic to think you thought this was a witty response. You really are dumb as a rock aren’t you?

  6. Render them unconscious by any means available; they cannot ban all drugs that make people unconscious. Then slit their throat and bleed them out. Done. Scalpels cause no pain, they say.
    The discreet use of screens, and opaque drain tubes should make it acceptable for the witnesses.

    1. I will grind your bones to dust
      And with your blood and it I’ll make a paste,
      And of the paste a coffin I will rear
      And make two pasties of your shameful heads,

  7. If Looosianna is antsy to murder their death row inmates, I can’t imagine the hand wringing in Oklahoma. They have tried to murder Richard Glossip multiple times now, and stopped at the last minute for botching several executions now. They should release Richard from prison, primarily because he is innocent, but he should also get some sort of medal for being given a final meal multiple times and then having the proceedings stop.

  8. If you’ve ever seen Louisiana’s death row you’d understand that the condemned are suffering miserably. It’s torture the way they treat them. I’m not saying they don’t necessarily deserve to be tortured but you should understand that they are being treated worse than an animals. I’d welcome death if it was me. That dishonest asshole Jeff Landry is using this for political purposes.

    1. Which has me thinking about “cruelty”. If the modern society would put you in jail for treating a dog the way they treat death row inmates and humans are more fragile and less tolerant of these types of conditions than dogs then surely that treatment meets the modern definition of cruelty.

      1. You make a fair point. But that goes to the larger point that at some point society decided that locking someone in a cage for years or decades or their entire lives was somehow more humane than killing them or even giving them corporal punishment. I have never had anyone explain to me how something like the lashings that they give out in Singapore is not more humane than what we do with our prison system. Our prison system is utterly barbaric and cruel and really not an improvement over the old system of criminal punishment consisting of either corporal punishment or execution. Prisons were invented by Quaker religious fanatics in the 19th century who thought they could save people’s should by torturing them.

  9. I’m not a fan of the death penalty generally. I think it has several practical failings as a social policy and several more as a judicial tool..

    But if you’re going to the death penalty, I completely fail to see a justification for these endless arguments about the means of execution. The means of execution should be less cruel than the methods used by the criminal to earn his/her sentence. Murder someone by shooting them and I don’t think you have a moral argument for not being shot in turn. Firing squad, hanging, asphyxiation, lethal injection all seem well within bounds. Execution is not a medical procedure. There is no requirement to make it painless or stress-free.

    For that matter, we don’t even try to make all medical procedures painless. I see no reason to hold the people carrying out a death sentence to a higher standard of “painless” than we require of the average dentist treating a root canal.

  10. how the communists kill the people…

    firing squads

    1. In that they were right. Killing rapist and murderers put good people above criminal scum. I just love how the whole argument against the death penalty is based on the historial court abuses and police abuses of cases. You all like to say the state should never have the power to take a man s life. Yet you are fine with it having the power to give you a death sentence to get raped every day of your fucking life. Death is easy. It has no suffering as long as it is done right. Problem is not the death penalty. Problem all the issues that lead to people being wrongfully convicted. Fix the issues. It is not broken dont fix it. Modern society is involving. Gun rights are at an all time low in the terms of history,killing of rapist and muderer too. But yeha you should have to pay for the food of the guy that murder your fucking daughter with your taxes yehaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa. Aint it beutiful to have the moral highground? Fuck you kill them all. I would be happy to execute rapist on the daily.

  11. You cannot kill if you are dead. Fuck you criminal scum. I am a libertarian but on this issue? Get fucked. If there is a mix up or an abuse of justice and innocent people die then you can take simple steps. Stop spreading myths worldwide about how the lying detector bullshit ever worked because it was always fucking subjective,inform judges of the real life minimal possibility of dna and finger print failure. Do several test and well sometimes you gonna fail. But if you are death then you are no longer a threat. I just love how liberal assholes try to take the highground on the death penalty as. Ho you just want punisment,jail is not about punishment is about giving you time to change. A fuck you B Death is not a fucking punishment at least not one you can feel after it is over. B punishment is getting Butt fucked in jail for 30 years cause you dont work out. C You all love freedom so much like me yet you decide hey lets incentivize the system that punishes people by removing freedom. D If freedom is so fucking important to you why are you taking it away from convicted fellons as punishment? Vindictive much? 5 kill them and be done with it. They cannot commit crime again if they are 6 feet under.

  12. I am a Louisianian. It seems that with our French heritage, the guillotine would be appropriate.

  13. Every article I’ve read about nitrogen suffocation indicates that it’s going to be painless. You don’t even need a “gas chamber”. Just a tank of nitrogen, a regulator to control the flow, a rubber tube, and a plastic bag. Hook up the tube to the tank. Turn the valve to start the flow(*). Put the plastic bag _loosely_ over the prisoner’s head, then put the tube in.

    Two or three breaths of a pure nitrogen atmosphere and the condemned is unconscious. Then it’s just a matter of waiting 10-20 minutes for his heart to stop.

    Quiet and painless. Nothing dramatic (maybe a few random “decorticate” movements). The one disadvantage is that it’s not quick. You’ll have to stand around waiting for the condemned to die. So sorry for the inconvenience to the witnesses.

    (*) Nitrogen isn’t poisonous until it gets so concentrated that you aren’t getting oxygen, so you can just let the small amount of N2 flow into the surrounding air with no danger.

    (to be continued)

  14. (continuing)
    Best of all, you can demonstrate it. If somebody sues claiming it’s torture, the judge can try it out right there in the courtroom. All you need is the tank, the tubing, and an ordinary plastic bag. Turn the nitrogen on, the judge goes out in about 10 seconds. Have a couple of people to keep the judge from falling off his chair. After 20 seconds you take the bag off and let him recover. You can demonstrate it for reporters, too.

    MIND YOU: nothing will fix the inherent injustices in our criminal “justice” system, especially those resulting from “death qualified” juries. This is just a less barbaric way of doing an inherently barbaric act.

  15. Is there a reason we haven’t moved on to Nitrogen asphyxiation? It’s already 78% of the atmosphere. Just make it 100%. Fall asleep and let it all be over. No need to force people to suffer.

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