The United States has real problems with capital punishment. Our nation’s methods of execution are often unnecessarily cruel, as seen in the case of Joseph Rudolph Wood, who took two hours to die after receiving a lethal injection in Arizona. These problems have brought publicity to the recent opinion of Alex Kozinski, a judge on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals who has declared that executions in the United States ought to be done with guillotines.
People who are familiar with the American system of justice are aware that the opinion of one judge is not enough to change the law. Kozinski may continue to say that he’d like to see guillotines used to execute prisoners, but his statements won’t change the way that prisoners are actually executed.
The members of network of right wing religious conspiracy theorists, however, either don’t understand the way that laws are made in the United States, or are choosing to exploit others’ ignorance in the matter. They’re using the Kozinski’s statements to revive a favorite story of theirs: That mass executions by guillotine will soon take place across the USA, as a One World Government led by a demon-possessed leader takes power.
We’ve written about this conspiracy theory here at Irregular Times before. Over two years ago, we took note when Pamela Rae Schuffert declared that guillotines were being set up all across the United States for mass executions that would soon begin. Schuffert never provided any evidence for the existence of these guillotines, however, and the mass executions never took place. The obvious falsity of these failed conspiracy theories haven’t prevented them from being repeated, and accepted by gullible readers.
The newest incarnation of the guillotine urban legend has it that Judge Kozinski is a part of the New World Order Illuminati conspiracy, and that Georgia has already passed a law to enable the execution of prisoners by guillotine, with other states soon to follow. Is it true? Is there a law in Georgia that allows the government to kill people by chopping off their heads with guillotines?
As with most successful conspiracy theories, this one is half true. There really was legislation to legalize execution by guillotine in Georgia. However, this legislation is old news. It was introduced in January of 1996 – over 18 years ago – and was never passed into law.
HB 1274 was written by state legislator Doug Teper in order to provide for the possibility of organ donation from the bodies of executed prisoners. Lethal injection and electrocution render organs unsuitable for transplantation, but decapitation leaves them intact. The bill never even was allowed to come up for a full vote by the state legislature.
The truth is simple, and can be easily researched by anyone who cares to do so: There is no law in Georgia allowing execution by guillotine.