It’s a round here somewhere

The next three inmates on Utah’s Death Row have opted for their last shots to be, not injections, but actual bullets, so it’s probably a Good Thing that the Beehive State has released the official state manual for executions. Herewith, a pertinent section:

Portion of Utah manual for executions pertinent to firing squad

This is the subsection I’d wonder about: “Care shall be taken to prevent any knowledge by the members of the firing squad of who is issued the weapon with two blank cartridges.” All the other members get live ammo. Now there’s a tradition here:

In some cases, one or more members of the firing squad may be issued a weapon containing a blank cartridge instead of one housing a live round. No member of the firing squad is told beforehand if she/he is using live ammunition. This is believed to reinforce the sense of diffusion of responsibility among the firing squad members, making the execution process more reliable. It also allows each member of the firing squad to believe afterward that he did not personally fire a fatal shot — for this reason, it is sometimes referred to as the “conscience round”.

Utah, last time around, used wax bullets for blanks, as they’re supposed to provide more realistic recoil.


  1. McG »

    4 April 2017 · 9:25 am

    Bad publicity for the injection drugs will do that.

  2. The Other McCain »

    4 April 2017 · 7:37 pm

    In The Mailbox: 0404.17

    Dustbury: It’s A Round Here Somewhere

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