Innovation Meets Execution: The Death Penalty 2.0


For nearly our entire 10,000 year history, we humans have been banding together into mobs in order to single out those individuals we find deserving of our collective punishment. Sadly, in the 21st century, tried and true methods of retribution-infliction such as the crucifix, the noose, the firing squad, the guillotine, and the electric chair, have begun to fall out of favor. Popular concern for the rights of others has skyrocketed in recent decades, but this decline doesn’t necessarily signal that people don’t want the death penalty to exist. When you think about it, it’s obvious why executions are getting a bad rap: our current methods are inefficient, painful, and most importantly, lack the polished user experience we have come to expect from technology. As we’ve learned from startups in the Valley, a clean, simple, and elegant solution to this problem might just be enough to win people back and ignite growth in a market begging for upheaval.

As it stands, our methods of administering capital punishment are severely lacking in the user experience department. In the past, usability concerns had no place in the criminal justice system, but times have changed. If done right, global demand for modern execution technology could see explosive growth. So where is the American entrepreneurial spirit? Where is the disruption-through-innovation Silicon Valley is so proud of? Where is Death Penalty 2.0?

5 Elegant Solutions for Modern Executions:

Though more and more states are outlawing the practice, capital punishment is one of the few businesses that can rely on a steady stream of government contracts. It might not be easy to scale, but we’re talking about an existing user base of 58 countries that still execute people regularly. China alone kills off thousands of its citizens every year using obsolete tools, and no doubt the PRC leadership would jump on the chance to make their execution procedures seem milder.

Entrenched players have been stagnant for decades, and legacy solutions are burdened by bad press. With the right kind of funding, a single innovative startup with a solid, value-added product offering could gain a commanding share of the market in no time. As in all things, it only makes sense for the interested entrepreneur to study the entertainment industry for inspiration, especially where human lives and consumer demand are concerned. We know you’re all very busy doing startups already, so here is a summary of the top five methods that have been dreamed up.

1. Quietus

Children of Men

The suicide kits distributed by the British government in Children of Men are a refreshing take on the death-by-lethal-injection. With a tagline like “You decide when,” though, it’s easy to see how Quietus got it right: they give the people what they want. Any company can deliver a lethal dose of painkillers, but in the end, it’s the brand people fall in love with. Everyone needs to die at some point, and people turn to Quietus when the end of humanity is imminent because it provides an amazing user experience.

Of course, being voluntary, Quietus can’t really be considered a method of punishment, but for the dystopian government engaged in serious, indiscriminate population control, there’s no better bang for your buck. The Quietus user is abstracted from the complexity of life immediately, though there’s no guarantee anyone will be around to clean up after them. Hopefully the next release will have a feature that self-detonates after the user has passed: the ability to vaporize users’ remains would make this the best execution method, hands down.

2. The Airlock

Battlestar Galactica

The best execution methods are those that clean up after themselves. The airlock method, popularized by the Colonial Government, is a clean, effortless way to both terminate someone and dispose of their remains at once. The typical airlock execution proceeds as follows: 1. The condemned user is locked inside an airlock alone. 2. The airlock operator presses the large green button. 3. The user is sucked out into the vacuum of space where their blood boils almost instantly and they are dead within a few seconds. 4. The airlock operator closes the airlock. 5. Execution over.

That kind of simplicity is gold in a market where the tools are often over-bloated with redundancies and processes are conflated with inefficiencies, often dragging on for years. When death row leads to an airlock, it’s just so damn easy to do and fun to watch, why would you want to wait? Ultimately, ‘spacing’ criminals is the ideal execution method for any government that possesses the capability to perform it. Unfortunately, it only works in space.

3. Stasis

Minority Report et al

When the full-on death penalty just isn’t an option, cold stasis is the next best thing in terms of value-added. Criminals in stasis are much easier to manage than criminals in prison, and efficiency can really soar when you treat people like animals in a zoo. When we learn how to forcefully induce hibernation in human beings, there’s no doubt the tech will find it’s way into criminal justice very quickly.

Putting thousands of inmates into frigid comas for long periods of time has a downside, though. Eventually, their sentences will be up, or a corrupt official will release a few to inspire fear in the heart of his pacified people. Chances are, society won’t be prepared to re-assimilate violent criminals in the distant future, so always keep a contingent of police on ice for just such an occasion. On the other hand, cryostasis chambers are unusually prone to demolition, so I doubt anyone would think twice if your stasis prison ‘just happened’ to be destroyed one day.

4. Light Bolt Pistol

No Country For Old Men / Star Wars

As demonstrated in the film No Country For Old Men, the simple captive bolt pistol can be retrofitted to slaughter humans instead of cattle. By delivering thousands of pounds per square inch of pressure to push a metal bolt right through the user’s skull, the captive bolt pistol makes for a quick and quiet execution. Already an elegant solution, there is still room for improving the technology by combining it with another kind of captive bolt: the light saber.

A hand-held bolt pistol lightsaber would be more effective than the best captive bolt by a long shot, and since it comes sans the heavy tank of gas, it’d be ultra-portable, too. Everyone would want one, but nowhere would the genius of this invention be better applied than in the execution of death row criminals. With a 100% penetration rate and the ability to kill instantaneously, all it would need is a way to incinerate the body and this device would revolutionize the industry. Currently, both Microsoft and Google are rumored to be experimenting with this technology, with a planned release date of Q1 2015.

5. Jailbot



No single invention in the history of mankind has had as large an impact on crime as Jailbot. Packing the latest sado-robotic police technology, Jailbot is both the ultimate deterrence and the perfect executioner. The one-of-a-kind punishment automaton excels at long-distance discipline, often tracking down fugitive users across the planet and returning them to Superjail for processing. Jailbot’s violent tendencies are far from being good public relations, but the sheer brutality with which the white robot inflicts endless pain on its victims makes for an incredible show.

Now go, you captain of industry, and revolutionize the art and business of executing criminals through elegant innovation.


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