Capital punishment is a hot button issue - especially in the United States. While well over half the states in the US still employ the death penalty, executions are becoming less and less frequent due to legal challenges and drug shortages related to lethal injection, which is essentially the only execution method still used.
While much hand-wringing and debate goes on domestically about lethal injection possibly being cruel and unusual punishment, a more global perspective illustrates that there are incredibly brutal executions taking place all over the globe; much more painful deaths, administered at a state-level, displaying almost unimaginable, primitive cruelty in the modern world.
Some incredibly gruesome execution methods still exist around the globe to this day.
The Gallows Are Alive And Well
Though it may seem like a dated practice, prisoners are still put to death via hanging in more than 50 countries, including the US, where it's still legal in some states but rarely used (the last occurrence was in Delaware for the 1996 execution of Billy Bailey). The reason this implementation of death has stood the test of time is likely that it's very cheap and effective, requiring little else than some rope and a tall structure.
There are two techniques of hanging still carried out today. First, there is the more humane long-drop technique (this was used to kill Saddam Hussein in 2006), in which the condemned is dropped at enough of a distance for the rope to snap their necks when it goes taut, killing them instantly. And then there is the other option, the more brutal short-drop technique, which slowly strangles a person to death.
Firing Squads Are Still Locked And Loaded
The concept of death by firing squad is so surreal that it seems like something out of a film; you can picture a scene with a blindfolded prisoner, cigarette on his lips, stiffening up for the inevitable melee of bullets. But this method of execution is hardly cinematic fiction - it's still used in practice in 28 countries, including the US.
Firing squads are the execution-method of choice in North Korea, based on video evidence smuggled out of the country. China has also relied on the technique until very recently. Domestically, the state of Utah reintroduced firing squads as a method of capital punishment because of the difficulty in obtaining drugs for lethal injections, making it only the second state to do so behind Oklahoma, which allows it as a last resort.
Being Submerged In Nitric Acid Is A Particularly Brutal Way To Die
ISIS really takes public executions to a new (and horrifying) level. In May 2016 in Mosul, Iraq, the occupying terrorist group executed 25 people thought to be Iraqi spies. This act itself is not unusual for ISIS, but the method of execution was an inventively sadistic one: the 25 captured were all killed by being placed in a vat of nitric acid.
Nitric acid is colorless liquid that is incredibly corrosive to the human body. During this execution, all 25 prisoners were tied together and slowly placed in a large basin of the lethal acid. The condemned were not completely submerged, but rather dipped just enough in the liquid to slowly dissolve their organs, causing an unbearably agonizing death.
One Of The Oldest Execution Methods - Stoning - Is Still Frequently Used
There are 15 countries in the world that still authorize public stonings, with the two most frequent participants being Iran and Somalia. This gruesome punishment is reserved primarily for adulterers, and is almost universally carried out against women who often face significant gender discrimination.
The practice of death by stoning is grizzly and horrifying. A particularly harsh example is the case of 13-year-old Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow, who in 2009 was executed in a stadium in the city of Kismayo, Somalia before a crowd of 1,000 onlookers. The young girl - who had been raped - was charged with adultery, and so she was taken by the region's controlling militia and buried up to her neck, all while pleading for her life, before 50 men threw heavy stones at her exposed head. After 10 minutes, the girl was dug up, and on-hand nurses discovered she was still alive. So she was placed back in the hole and the stoning continued until she was finally dead.