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.
Lethal Injection Pumps Poison Into Your Veins
Considered to be the most humane form of capital punishment, lethal injection is a commonly used method of execution in China, Guatemala, the Philippines, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States. Here in the US, 36 states authorize death by lethal injection, which has been used widely since the late 1970s as an execution method thought to be more efficient than the antiquated electric chair and gas chamber options - both of which are still legal.
On August 14, 2018, US state Nebraska executed Carey Dean Moore, a man who shot two cab drivers 40 years prior; he was one of the country's longest-serving death row prisoners. Nebraska lawmakers abolished the death penalty in 2015, but Republican Governor Pete Ricketts had it restored in 2016. The executioner used a combination of four lethal drugs to kill Moore, including fentanyl. It was the state's first lethal injection and its first executed death penalty since 1997.
While in the United States ethical debates and drug shortages stall planned executions, China has streamlined the process in a ghastly way. The world leader in capital punishment (executing an estimated thousands every year), China uses mobile police buses to carry out lethal injections - a process reminiscent of the "gas wagons" used in Nazi Germany. These ambulance-like vehicles offer quick on-the-go executions, which are especially needed, since 65 percent of organ transplants in China come from executed prisoners (a donation that is of course not voluntary).
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.