The sunny Lone Star State is about to enter a new era of environmentally friendly retribution, thanks to the pioneering efforts of Fred Maynard, the Governor of Ellsborough State Prison near San Antonio. Mr Maynard has installed state-of-the-art solar panels on Death Row, and they are ready to go into action on June 29, when triple killer Billy Roberts goes to the electric chair.
"Texas Department of Corrections is fully committed to reducing its carbon footprint. We have a duty to the environment when we punish people. We're now moving towards a more satisfactory death penalty experience for everyone ", said Mr Maynard in a press statement. He has also invited his staff to come up with new energy-saving ideas, and the prison chef has responded with plans for a solar-powered stove on Death Row, which he says will soon be cooking “tasty, zero-emission last meals” on execution days.
A spokesman for Hastings Electric, the oil-fuelled energy company that powered the electric chair in the past, says he is sad to see a parting of the ways with the prison after a long and fruitful partnership, and still maintains fossil-fuelled executions are the best.
Mr Roberts could not be reached for comment. However, his lawyer issued a statement saying his client has an IQ of 76 and is currently too preoccupied with selecting a topping for his pizza on June 19 to give serious thought to the energy-saving aspect of his imminent demise.
Meanwhile, civil liberties groups have criticised the plan as a publicity stunt, with the risk of exposing the prisoner to cruel and unusual punishment. "What about if June 29 turns out cloudy?" asks Marvin Lucas of the American Civil Liberties Union. "In that case, these panels would only generate a current of 200 watts or thereabouts. That's barely enough to fry an egg, let alone a 300lb triple murderer"