Mobile execution chambers are now on the road in China. As a replacement for the firing squad, this is nomadic power, bringing the state – and lethal injections – to your doorstep.
“Makers of death vans,” USA Today reports, “say they save money for poor localities that would otherwise have to pay to construct execution facilities in prisons or court buildings. The vans ensure that prisoners sentenced to death can be executed locally, closer to communities where they broke the law.” It’s the infrastructure of punishment detached from the limitations of geography.
On the other hand, “China’s critics contend that the transition from firing squads to injections in death vans facilitates an illegal trade in prisoners’ organs. Injections leave the whole body intact and require participation of doctors. Organs can ‘be extracted in a speedier and more effective way than if the prisoner is shot,’ says Mark Allison, East Asia researcher at Amnesty International in Hong Kong. ‘We have gathered strong evidence suggesting the involvement of (Chinese) police, courts and hospitals in the organ trade.'”
To guarantee that each execution is “carried out legally,” they are all “recorded on video and audio that is played live to local law enforcement authorities” – state-induced death as a form of avant-garde cinema.
As USA Today continues, punishment by death is not uncommon: “Sixty-eight different crimes – more than half non-violent offenses such as tax evasion and drug smuggling – are punishable by death in China. That means the death vans are likely to keep rolling.”
Perhaps leading to someone’s future Ph.D.: Urban Design and the Death Sentence. Or a TV show: Pimp My Death Van.