A Modest Proposal, Idaho Edition

WC thanks the late Jonnie Swift for the inspiration for this post. WC also acknowledges the contributions of Deci Juvenalis.

The State of Idaho Department of Law has been intensely frustrated in its efforts to execute the many folks waiting on death row. Idaho has the death penalty and Idaho law currently provides for execution by lethal injection. As you may have heard, pharmaceutical manufacturers are deeply reluctant to allow their medicines to be used to kill, even for state-sanctioned murders. As a result, Idaho can’t kill execute folks it wants to kill.

WC is an ardent opponent of the death penalty. Legal systems are far from infallible, and there are innocent people sitting on death row. More innocents have been killed. So, as you might imagine, WC thinks that State of Idaho’s predicament is just fine.

But the supermajority in the Idaho Legislature and Attorney General Raul “Hang ‘Em Now” Labrador think the situation is deplorable. Like the vultures in the Far Side cartoon, they are tired of waiting and want to kill someone.

So the Idaho Legislature has adopted a bill authorizing the firing squad as a means of killing humans sentenced to death. Bog knows there’s no shortage of bullets or firearms. The bill has just been signed into law by Governor Little. You say it’s inhumane? The Idaho Legislature says, “So what?” Who’s going to be in the firing squad? That’s undecided. The law is silent.

So, in the spirit of Jonathan Swift, WC has a modest proposal.

Let’s have the cops do it. Let’s have the cops serve as the firing squad. They’re trained professionals; they tell us so at every opportunity. And they don’t make mistakes; in Idaho the police reviews tell us every time that cops kill someone it was completely justified. And, to a shocking extent, having the Idaho cops perform executions would only confirm what they are already doing. Idaho “enjoys” the fourth highest rate of police killings already. Public executions would be just another day at the office, as it were, for Idaho’s trigger-happy gendarmes.

You say it would lower public opinion of Idaho law enforcement. Naw. That would be impossible.

At least police executions by firing squad would have a modicum of due process involved, unlike the cops’ ad hoc homicides.

Hey, it’s an idea. And even a bad idea is better than empty-headedness, which can only lead to more empty-headedness. Or a career in politics. Idaho politics.

Swift got in a lot of trouble for his modest proposal. WC is no Jonathan Swift, but anticipates criticism from folks defending police, defending the death penalty or both.

Yes, it would be a better idea to abandon the death penalty completely. But in Idaho, where the romanticized, largely fictional Cowboy Code of the West is taken as gospel, that’s not going to happen.

Eliminate the middlemen; have the cops serve as the firing squads.

7 thoughts on “A Modest Proposal, Idaho Edition

  1. Some days are more difficult than others and today is definitely not among the better ones. Having first read the story on Bridge Int’l Academies and now this honest commentary on the justice system, accessibility of firearms, death penalty and the police . . .. Yes. There are indeed days like this when I can really appreciate the urge to leave planet earth. What, indeed have we wrought? Especially knowing none of this is going to get better. Ever.

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  2. By coincidence, I had a similar solution the other day. But instead of spending almost $800,000 on a new facility, let’s use the Old Prison or perhaps a shooting range out in the desert. There should be a raffle — let’s say $25 per ticket, non-refundable — for seven spots on the firing squad. I’m sure there are enough big-game trophy hunters in Idaho (residents only) who would step up and participate for the bragging rights. (However, they could not keep any body parts as trophy.) There are enough bullet manufacturers and firearms-related businesses in Idaho that co-sponsors could likely be found. The execution might even make a profit. And Attorney General Labrador, seconded by his former law office associate Rep. Bruce Smaug, could lead the squad to the firing range and call the countdown to fire.


  3. You do realize that is how it is done, at least in Utah, the only state to use firing squads in the past 40 years. “Gardner was executed on June 18, 2010, at 12:15 a.m. Mountain Daylight Time[54] by a firing squad at Utah State Prison in Draper. He was placed in restraints on a black metal chair with a hood covering his head. Sandbags were arranged around him to absorb ricochets. The firing squad was made up of five anonymous volunteers who were certified police officers. The officers stood about 25 feet (7.6 m) from Gardner, aiming at a white target positioned over his heart. One of their .30-caliber Winchester rifles was selected at random and loaded with a non-lethal wax bullet so that they would not know with certainty who fired the fatal shots.[2] According to the Utah Department of Corrections, the squad used a countdown cadence beginning with five and simultaneously firing right before two.[56]”

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