In a controversial move, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice will be implementing a new form of capital punishment. Sometime later this year they will begin executing their inmates on death row and those convicted of capital murder via the Piranha Execution System. The death sentence will be carried out by a three-step process:
1. The criminal is nicked on the arm with a knife to draw blood.
2. The criminal is placed in a pool of waist-deep fresh water.
3. One piranha fish is placed into the water every five minutes until the offender is deceased.
The execution will be a Pay-Per-View cable event with a mediator- host, and 100 percent of the money raised will be directly funneled into the state education and mental healthcare systems.
For those that don’t know, the piranha (rhymes with Madonna and/or Tijuana) is a member of the Characidae family, an omnivorous freshwater fish that inhabits South American rivers. Known for their sharp teeth, piranha have a voracious appetite for meat. They are also attracted to the scent of blood and can quickly reduce a large animal, such as a dairy cow, to a skeleton. A Texas State Corrections officer spoke based on a condition of anonymity:
VICE: Why the move to the Piranha Execution System? Is this a serious thing?
Corrections Officer: We think today’s climate of violence needs to be dealt with using equal and adequate means. Criminals don’t seem to fear the judicial system anymore. There aren’t enough real deterrents out there. The Virginia Tech shooter, Columbine, Newtown, Mark David Chapman, and the Batman Movie shooter, these people were making statements. With the Piranha System, we’re making a bigger statement. Those people wanted to be made famous. They wanted to be martyrs. They wanted their acts to be glorified. With this system, we’re taking that away from them.
Most of those people killed themselves though.
They were also made famous. With the Piranha Method, we want to show killers being brutally belittled. We want to show them paying for their crime, looking the opposite of famous. It’ll be a horrific scene. Gruesome. Possibly prolonged. The criminal will suffer. The piranha will not have eaten for a week. We want to broadcast these images for those that want to see them. We want to have this message register in the collective subconscious of all the prospective murderers out there, that this is what will happen to you, the opposite of glamorization. They want to get back at society? Well, we will be putting out a loud and clear message that society will make them pay for it. Some killers will kill themselves, yes. But we’re wanting to stop them before they commit their crime. The Green River Killer was into killing. He got off on it. We’ll see how into killing he is when there’s a piranha eating his genitalia off.
There will be a huge outcry from human-rights groups.
Yes, there will. But where is the huge outcry from human-rights groups when these killers are perpetrating their crimes? Where were the human-rights groups when James Holmes walked into a theater in Aurora, CO and slaughtered innocent people with a AR-15 semiautomatic assault rifle? Our aim with this program is to save lives. We’re not going to be able to stop every killing, but we think that after a few years of the Piranha Method's being broadcast, criminals and potential criminals will take note. They’ll think about it. An image of a murderer being eaten alive will filter into their head, and we think in some cases, it will make a difference. They’ll think about it. It will be something they actually fear. It will save lives. James Holmes was into the Joker character of the Batman series. We’ll see how into the Joker he is when a piranha is chewing on his eyeball.
Please talk about the Pay-Per-View aspect.
Our mental healthcare systems need money. The paradigm of mental healthcare facilitation needs to completely change in our country. And that’s going to take a lot more money. Same thing with the education system. We need more teachers. We need better teachers. We need to pay teachers more. We need more facilities and programs. Where are we going to get all this money? The government? The only thing the government cares about is big-business corporate America. The Pay-Per-View Piranha Execution System will raise millions and millions of dollars that we’ll be putting directly toward mental healthcare and education. Do you realize how better off our society would be in twenty years if we really bolstered the financial means of the mental healthcare and education systems of our country? That’s what we’re trying to do. We’re meeting violent actions head on, and turning them back on themselves, so in the long run, there will be less violence. We’re fighting violence with violence.
Isn’t that what our government said when they were “fighting terror with terror?"
It is extreme, I’ll give it that. But today’s climate of violence is beyond extreme. There’s an epidemic of violence in this country that’s not just going to magically go away. I think we need to meet the problem on its level, and be stronger than the problem. As much as we want and need to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals, and put more regulations on ammunition, we’re never going to be able to fully stop people from killing with guns, no matter how many regulations are put into place, and no matter how much policing is put into action. The epidemic calls for drastic measures. With Piranha Pay-Per-View Execution, we’re sending a new message to all those that commit these crimes: “You kill an innocent person, you get the piranhas.”
Broadcast for all to see.
The media enables these criminals’ delusions. They put their faces on the front page of newspapers like they’re celebrities: Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, John Wayne Gacy, Adam Lanza, James Holmes. We as a people feed on the media. And the media, and the entertainment industry, feed on violence, and shove it nonstop into our brains. With piranhas, we’re taking that mindless bloodlust and routing it toward good, toward the core of the epidemic: mental healthcare and education. Sure we need to study the murderers when we catch them, there are necessary things to learn. But after we’ve studied you for a year, maybe two, it’s time for the piranhas. No more celebrity treatment, or special interrogation room, or wing of the prison. It’s time for people to see you pay for what you did. It’s time for people to hear you scream out in pain, just like your victims screamed out in pain.
What about people wrongly convicted of crimes?
We’re only talking about capital offenders here, guilty beyond reasonable doubt.
Are you worried the piranha executions will horrify kids?
The Pay-Per-View package will be given an NC-17 rating. But is it any worse than anything that’s already out there? Or easily accessible on the internet? Showing in theaters right now is Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D. Have you seen any of Rob Zombie’s movies? Or Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers? Or Hostel? Or Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs? The list goes on and on. The Japanese Battle Royale? There’s a film that came out in 1980 called Cannibal Holocaust where the violence is so bad, the director was arrested in Italy for making a snuff film. A girl in the movie is depicted being gang raped and then impaled on a big wooden spike. Seven real animals were butchered during the making of the film. Ever watched Full Metal Jacket, or Apocalypse Now, or Platoon? Or Goodfellas?
Where do you get your piranhas?
We have a source in Venezuela. They come from the Orinoco River. Part of the Amazon. They can be vicious buggers.
I’m surprised you didn’t bring up video games, as being spreaders of violence.
And I’m surprised you didn’t say, “But films are art.” Which they are, but the violence has become so plentiful and graphic, we’re numbing society’s mind to it. I see the video games in the same light. We’ve got large numbers of people playing these shooting and killing games for hours and hours. After seeing enough films and playing enough video games, some people can’t differentiate that from real life. Much of the problem comes down to lack of parenting. If there’s solid parenting, kids can learn to balance it, and learn what’s right from wrong. And what’s art and not art. What’s play, and what’s reality. Problem is, not every kid has solid parenting. Tests actually show that kids with good parenting who are allowed to play the video games and play with toy guns have less chance of becoming violent criminals than a child that’s not allowed to play with toy guns or video games. It’s all about having an open line of communication with children about what is OK and not OK. Sadly, not every kid has good parents around to talk to.
What about the people out there, the criminals, and potential criminals who are so insane, they don’t know the difference? Say, people committing murder while suffering from an episode of acute dementia? Watching humans being eaten alive by fish with teeth probably isn’t going to change anything for them.
You’re right. It’s not a perfect system. Like I said, we’re not going to be able to stop every killing either. But in some instances, no matter how acute the dementia or how mentally unstable the person is, this Piranha System will register. The screams of a man being eaten alive will resonate in their head on some level. A person about to go on a shooting rampage is going to be loading a gun, about to do something they shouldn’t, and they’ll hear that scream, or maybe think of what the carnage of the Piranha Pool looks like, and associate it with, “This is what happens to people that did the same thing that I’m about to do.” It will plant a seed of doubt.
But won’t that just be more incentive for the people to kill themselves afterward?
In some cases. But not all. In some cases, it will stymie their plan. The negative association of the piranhas and the images of their carnage will be enough to get them to stop what they’re doing. The Piranha System uses an archetypal fear. With years of better mental healthcare and education systems statewide, the numbers of people on the fringe, who are so unstable they want to kill, will diminish. We’re taking an extreme measure to eradicate extreme measures and in the end, we think we’ll be better off for it. John Lennon’s killer said, “I was in a very confused, dark place. I was looking for reasons to vent all that anger and confusion and low self-esteem.” And we want to give this type of person reasons not to take it any further. We want to make it easy for them to get the help they need. We want to stop the horrendous deed before the horrendous deed is thought up.