As TFTP reported in December, the Justice Department quietly amended its execution protocols, no longer requiring federal death sentences to be carried out by lethal injection and clearing the way to use other methods like firing squads and poisonous gas. Now, Arizona is following suit and is preparing to execute death row inmates with the same gas used by the Nazis at Auschwitz — Zyklon B.
According to documents obtained by The Guardian, Arizona's department of corrections has spent thousands on the ingredients to make cyanide gas. The department also purchased sodium hydroxide pellets and sulfuric acid which are intended to be used to generate the deadly gas, according to the report.
Arizona has a gas chamber that was built in 1949 which is where the gas will be used. According to reports, the gas chamber has been "dusted off" and "refurbished," ready to kill.
According to The Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, 1.1 million people died at the concentration camp during World War II, including 960,000 Jews. The main cause of death was hydrogen cyanide gas, otherwise known as Zyklon B.
Arizona hasn't executed anyone since 2014 after they attempted to kill Joseph Wood and it took him two hours to die because of an error in the dosage. This makes the idea of using gas, that much more questionable, especially considering its history.
After WWI, the world agreed to ban Zyklon B, however, the Nazi regime brought it back to accelerate its plan to kill Jews.
In 1946, one of the chemists responsible for selling Zyklon B to the Nazis for use on humans, Bruno Tesch, was executed for his crimes against humanity.
Thought it remains banned, hydrogen cyanide continues to be produced under different names, including Delta-Degesch.
This news comes on the heels of the fact that in 2020, then-Attorney General William Barr restarted federal executions after a 17-year hiatus. Despite bipartisan resistance to this measure, the DOJ executed more Americans in 2020 than they have in the previous five decades.
As the dystopian walls close in on free thinkers, the idea of using a banned Nazi gas to kill people in America is as horrifying as it is tone deaf.
Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, told the Guardian, “You have to wonder what Arizona was thinking in believing that in 2021 it is acceptable to execute people in a gas chamber with cyanide gas. Did they have anybody study the history of the Holocaust?”
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While the various methods of death are certainly shocking, the idea of capital punishment seems to be taking a back seat to all of this. For the state to claim the responsibility of justly ending life, it means that the state must never be wrong. Even the most ardent of statists will have to concede that an infallible state is but a terribly written fiction.
John Adams once wrote:
It is more important that innocence should be protected, than it is, that guilt be punished; for guilt and crimes are so frequent in this world, that all of them cannot be punished....
When the state is more concerned about how to go about punishing the guilty, than protecting innocence, we have achieved peak oligarchy.
The National Registry of Exonerations at the University of Michigan Law School reported that 2,696 falsely accused prisoners were exonerated since 1989. Some of these people were set to die at the hand of the state for their convictions.
It is no secret that prosecutors will seek the maximum punishment for the maximum charge, and their conviction percentages are in the upper 90's.
Does that mean that these prosecutors are flawless machines hell bent on distributing some mythical immaculate justice? Or, does it actually mean that the entire system wishes more to hand out punishments, instead of seeking truth?
It is important to note that this is not a call for crimes to go unpunished, that would be irresponsible. However, the slaughter of innocence is a far more grave thought.
In criminal law, Blackstone's formulation (also known as Blackstone's ratio or the Blackstone ratio) is the principle that:
"It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer"
In a perfect system, irrefutable evidence would exist in every conviction. But as the constant flow of articles on this site about cops framing innocent people illustrates, this system is far from perfect.
Until we strive for a more perfect system, the manner in which death is dolled out by the hand of incompetence, is of no significance, other than tyrants pumping their chests about new ways to kill.