Capital Punishment in Cyberia
Capital punishment carried out by firing squad on the Antarctic continent has been in use since the permanent military presence of the US and Soviet Union in the mid to late 1900's. Originally, the firing squad was comprised of a random selection of at least two military personnel, without an upper limit; the number of riflemen depended upon how many convicts were to be dispatched at any one time. Execution by firing squad has been preferred over other means of capital punishment due to its swift setup and completion, and low cost to perform.
After some time, with the formation of the Riot Control Corps, they soon took on the responsibility of executing convicted civilians and military persons alike. Today, Riot Control continues to carry out this responsibility by virtue of tradition. Though it has been suggested, never has this duty been transferred to another unit of department nor to another branch of government.
Criminal offenses that are likely to result in capital punishment largely revolve around the raw act of first degree murder and otherwise the intentional endangerment of large amounts of people. The latter of this includes crimes against the state, in which in the eyes of the law it is believed to put the country's population in danger.
Conditions present at or closely before the committance of a crime that increase the likelihood of a worse condemnation are termed aggravating circumstances, or aggravating factors. For example, in murders involving the killing of an on-duty policeman or police officer, the act of murder is considered the crime committed, while the happenstance that the person killed was a on-duty police agent is considered the aggravating factor. While the administration of justice is inherently subjective on certain grounds, other examples of aggravating factors include the victim(s) being a minor, a high-ranking official, or having been harmed in an especially abhorrent manner.
Only judges, who carry the sole responsibility for deciding sentences for convicted persons, are allowed to condemn criminals to death by the state. It is considered excessive and unprofessional for a plaintiff to suggest or otherwise call for a defendant be put to death in front of a judge.
Once an official death sentence has been given to a defendant by a judge, the judge issues a request for a warrant for the execution of the convict to the Criminal Records Office and Warrant Service (CROWS) of the Justice Department. The CROWS technically has the power to deny the judge their request, in which the decision to award the warrant will be given to the President of the Justice Department, however this power to decline has never been exercised. These execution warrants, like all warrants, are then given to the Riot Control Corps of the Defense Department to be carried out by a member of the rank Chief Warrant Officer (WO-3).
Persons sentenced to death are to be detained and held prisoner in prisons specifically designated for the incarceration of those with outstanding execution warrants. These special prisons are collectively, infamously named "death row", and persons imprisoned in one of them are said to be "on death row", awaiting their execution or potentially their release due to a successful appeal.
Appeals to reconsider the sentencing of a condemned convict are very likely to occur after the judgement of said defendant. This inevitably causes a delay in the completion of the warrant on the convict's life. Reasons for a call to appeal being made usually claim that there was a lack of evidence to sentence the defendant to death, or that new evidence suggests that the person convicted is the wrong perpetrator.
In the past, these delays caused by appeals were not limited in their extension, due to the lack of law regarding the appellate process. However, today they are legally limited to a rather generous maximum of ten years of delay.
The Firing Squad
The, arguably infamous, Firing Squad is an official temporary title given to a squad of four men (women traditionally do not participate in executions) randomly selected from the total enlisted personnel of the Riot Control Corps, plus one volunteer of the same pool of soldiers. Originally, the squad was wholly comprised of volunteers for each execution, however it has since been changed to four random RCs and one voluntary RC. The Firing Squad is always commanded by an RC member of the rank Chief Warrant Officer (WO-3).
There is not an officially designated gun with which to serve execution warrants using, however it has become established tradition to use the M91/30 Mosin-Nagant, chambered in its original 7.62×54mmR. Each rifle is loaded by an armorer, out of sight of the Firing Squad, with a single round in each chamber. These loaded rifles are then personally distributed to the five members of the FS by the armorer. There is a rumor that the volunteer is always given a rifle with a real bullet.
Before the turn of the 21st century, the vast majority of firing squad executions were carried out using completely live, metal ammunition. After, these executions slowly became more likely to include the use of either a single blank cartridge, or a single fake bullet loaded into one of the now five rifles used. Fake bullets are greatly preferred over blank cartridges due to the much more realistic recoil given by the former. The composition of these fake bullets has varied since their implementation, however commonly used fake bullets are made of wax, rubber or plastic. Since each rifle is given to the Firing Squad already loaded out of their sight, it is impossible for any member of the FS to know if they were handed the rifle with the fake round, thus allowing any one member to walk away from the execution with less of a guilty conscience; a possibility that they had not in fact personally taken someone's life.
Condemned persons are commonly brought out within the immediate proximity of death row prisons, outside the building, but near to other inmates' cells. Bystanders are not prohibited to view the execution, however they must be a minimum safe distance away, and must not be within the line of fire or the backdrop thereof.
Death row inmates are usually blindfolded prior to being shot, though it is possible for the convict to request the blindfold be removed or not used at all, in which the request is fulfilled. The inmate is then handcuffed, with the chain of the handcuffs being put behind a sturdy wood or metal post. The inmate is instructed to remain standing until shot.
Firing Squads are directed by Riot Police of the rank of Chief Warrant Officer (WO-3) only. These officers coordinate their five temporary squad members as a whole, instructing when and where to aim their rifles, and when to fire. FS riflemen are typically instructed to aim at the heart of the condemned, assisted by a laser sight affixed to their weapons, and sometimes a paper target placed on the person's chest. When dispatching death row inmates that remain approved for organ donation after death, they are told to face their back to the executioners, and the FS rifleman are instead instructed to aim at the brainstem.
Disposal of the Executed
During the mid to late 1900's, bodies were simply left where they had been executed. Afterwards, the bodies began to be recovered immediately after execution. Those that remained registered as and eligible for organ donation are first taken to a government autopsy specialist to have these organs extracted, and then the remainder is cremated. Those that aren't slated for organ donation, are taken straight to cremation. The resultant ashes of these cremations are not given to the families of the deceased in the vast majority of cases, and it is not publicly disclosed what the government does with the ashes. This has given way to urban myths surrounding the belief that they are used by the Department of Agriculture in the growing of crops.
Use of the Firing Squad Over Other Methods
As officially stated by the AS government, the use of the firing squad is preferred over other methods of execution due to its simplicity, quick accomplishment, high reliability, and low cost both monetarily and by raw resources used.
The firing squad is preferred over lethal injection due to the high cost to make the drugs to be used on the condemned, especially in the high amounts used to ensure the reliable death of the convicted.
The firing squad is preferred over hanging due to the comparatively longer time needed to setup the latter's procedure as well as the comparatively longer time needed for the inmate to die, assuming the long drop method is not used.
The firing squad is preferred over electrocution due to the latter's relatively low reliability and tendency to cause a great deal of extra pain to the condemned before they are killed.
The firing squad is preferred over the use of a gas chamber due to similar reasons as the lethal injection, in that there is a high cost to manufacture the drugs necessary to incapacitate and subsequently kill the inmate.
Public Opinion and Debate
Capital punishment is a controversial issue in the Antarctic State, with many nuanced opinions from all sides and both civilian and military populations cropping up on the matter. These can subjectively be placed in three major groups; those that are in support of the death penalty, those that are opposed to it, and those that want an alternative method of execution.
A survey of public opinion taken by the Department of Civilian Affairs showed that while there are significant numbers of people opposed to the death penalty, supporters of it currently outnumber the objectors by roughly twenty percentage points. This percentage often fluctuates in the wake of intentionally-caused tragedies such as mass shootings. Patterns in the Civilian Affairs Department's surveys suggest that the public opinion of the death penalty is gradually trending towards abolition.
Support of Capital Punishment
Those in support of the concept of the death penalty include those that believe certain criminals deserve to have their rights taken away; and also includes those that believe death row inmates should still be treated in a humane manner prior to execution. Furthermore, there are those who are in support of the death penalty in general, along with believing that the penalty should perhaps be completed through an alternative method besides execution by firing squad.
A common belief among supporters of the death penalty maintains that it serves as a good deterrent to would-be criminals. Deterrence is a popular belief among Riot Police. A common belief among supporters of the death penalty who also happen to be prosecution attorneys maintains that it serves as a good scare tactic used in order to plea bargain or otherwise coax the defense into testifying against accomplices or revealing the location of the victim(s).
Objection to Capital Punishment
Those who object to the concept of the death penalty often maintain that criminals too have a right to life and that it shall not be revoked. Both those who do and don't subscribe to the belief of a right to life may also believe that the death penalty in general causes unnecessary physical and mental distress to convicted death row inmates, especially in the case of execution by firing squad. There are also those who only object to capital punishment while it is in its current form of completion, which is death by firing squad.
A common belief among objectors to the death penalty says that due to the sheer possibility of a wrongful execution (i.e. a wrongfully convicted person being executed), the death penalty should be abolished and replaced by life imprisonment as a stopgap measure.
There have been times in the past and in relatively recent history where executions have not gone as planned, resulting in the condemned not immediately dying upon the signal to fire being given. It is for this reason, that the Chief Warrant Officer (WO-3) of the Firing Squad carries a sidearm with them to their serving of execution warrants, for the practice of coup de grâce, to ensure that the executed are completely without life.
Botched executions may result as a consequence of poor aim on the FS riflemen's part, poor direction on the officer's part, excessive struggling by the convicted, or a combination of any of the three. The most recent botched execution occurred in 2180 upon the date of William Blackburn's scheduled execution, in which Blackburn was left writhing on the ground in pain after the majority of the riflemen's shots missed his heart. Then-Chief of the Firing Squad Rikharthu Tavash did not hesitate in holding Blackburn still and administering the final shot to the skull.
Botched executions are commonly brought up by objectors to the death penalty that maintain the belief that the use of the firing squad is needlessly barbaric or otherwise old-fashioned.
Public Viewing and Media Coverage of Executions
It is not prohibited for the media to record or otherwise be supplied with recordings of executions, nor is it prohibited for an execution to gather an in-person audience, provided certain safety guidelines are followed by that audience. It has been stated officially that the sole reason for the allowance of these viewings is in an effort to maintain a certain level of transparency with the general public. Live broadcasts and recordings of executions are another touchy subject within the support of and objection to the death penalty.