Makers of death vans
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.
That "deters others from committing crime and has more impact" than executions carried out elsewhere, Kang says.
Jinguan — "Golden Champion" in Chinese — lies an hour's drive from Chongqing in southwestern China, below the green slopes of Cliff Mountain. Along with the death vans, the company also makes bulletproof limousines for the country's rich and armored trucks for banks. Jinguan's glossy death van brochure is printed in both Chinese and English.
From the outside, the vans resemble the police vehicles seen daily on China's roads. A look inside reveals their function.
"I'm most proud of the bed. It's very humane, like an ambulance," Kang says. He points to the power-driven metal stretcher that glides out at an incline. "It's too brutal to haul a person aboard," he says. "This makes it convenient for the criminal and the guards."
The lethal cocktail used in the injections is mixed only in Beijing, something that has prompted complaints from local courts.
"Some places can't afford the cost of sending a person to Beijing — perhaps $250 — plus $125 more for the drug," says Qiu Xingsheng, a former judge working as a lawyer in Chongqing. Death-by-gunshot requires "very little expense," he says.
Qiu has attended executions by firing squad where the kneeling prisoner is shot in the back of the head. The guards "ask the prisoner to open his mouth, so the bullet can pass out of the mouth and leave the face intact," he says.