For a small, upfront investment, New Mexicoe can launch its own pay-per-view TV Death Penalty Network
The programming would air executions on live TV during prime-time viewing hours
BY JEFF BAKER
New Mexico has a unique opportunity to hit a trifecta, but time is short. Others will jump onto this idea unless the state acts quickly.
Gov. Susana Martinez is looking for a way to put her political opponents on the ropes by making them take a stand on the death penalty: “Do you support babies or child killers? Cops or criminals?” The public is rightly sickened by the murders of children and police officers. The state’s formerly deep pockets are collecting more lint and less cash.
Here’s the idea: The Death Penalty Cable TV Network.
For a small, upfront investment, New Mexicoe can launch its own pay-per-view TV Death Penalty Network. The programming will air executions on live TV during prime-time viewing hours. Much like the Super Bowl, the hype (and advertising dollars) leading up to each execution will be enormous.
Access to reruns and internet streaming can be controlled by the state, which will own all broadcasting rights. The advertising dollars alone are guaranteed to jump-start a stalled state economy. Viewer subscription fees will put the state’s books back to black.
Because New Mexico has a small population, it is unlikely that we will have enough executions to fill an entire TV season. But New Mexico, if it uses its marketing savvy, can offer televised executions of other states’ prisoners (for a price, of course). Because of the film industry that has settled into the state, we have state-of-the-art production facilities, and we have a workforce that knows its way around a set.
Like the Super Bowl, we can fill a stadium or an arena with the high rollers. Companies can schedule annual meetings during a Death Penalty Weekend in Albuquerque. Hotels and restaurants will be full.
But it is not enough simply to kill someone on live TV. Watching a person strapped to a gurney and being fed a lethal cocktail through an IV is boring. People might watch once, but their interest will fade by the third execution.
So here is the kicker: One month in advance of the execution date, subscribers to the Death Penalty Network will vote on how the next inmate will be killed. Firing squads and hanging are old school. This is the 21st century, where we are limited only by our imagination. New Mexicans are creative. Should the condemned be crushed by an elephant? Locked in a room of rattlesnakes? Soaked with the blood of a goat and eaten by a ravenous Mexican gray wolf?
The casinos can host “Death Night,” and everyone wins – the casinos will pay the state a hefty fee for the right to broadcast the execution, and the casinos will be busier than normal. Gamblers can bet on the over and under (“Will he last more than 60 seconds?”).
As virtual reality technology improves, the state (or the company it partners with) can rent or sell VR headsets, so the viewer has an even more visceral experience. The viewer will be in the middle of the action, listening to the inmate scream as he tries to climb the walls to avoid the snakes, or listening to the crush of bones as the elephant steps on lungs and liver.
The governor can create a new department of state government, occupying the current void between public safety and corrections – the Department of Death. The first consulting contract should be with Vince McMahon or Dana White, who put gladiator sports back in their rightful place – on TV.
This project will take a team, but under the leadership of our governor, New Mexicans are ready to roll up our sleeves, put on our thinking caps, and make this happen. We are New Mexico – don’t mess with our children or our police.
Jeff Baker is an Albuquerque attorney.