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Sources

R. Bohm, "Deathquest: An Introduction to the Theory and Practice of Capital Punishment in the United States," Anderson Publishing, 1999.

W. Ecenbarger, "Perfecting Death: When the state kills it must do so humanely. Is that possible?," The Philadelphia Inquirer Magazine, January 23, 1994.

Lethal Injection

In 1977, Oklahoma became the first state to adopt lethal injection as a means of execution, though it would be five more years until Charles Brooks would become the first person executed by lethal injection in Texas on December 7, 1982. Today, all of the states that have the death penalty use this method.

Gas Chamber

In 1924, the use of cyanide gas was introduced as Nevada sought a more humane way of executing its inmates. Gee Jon was the first person executed by lethal gas. The state tried to pump cyanide gas into Jon's cell while he slept. This proved impossible because the gas leaked from his cell, so the gas chamber was constructed.

Electrocution

Seeking a more humane method of execution than hanging, New York built the first electric chair in 1888 and executed William Kemmler in 1890. Soon, other states adopted this execution method. Today, electrocution is not used as the sole method of execution in any state, though some states retain it if the inmate chooses it or if lethal injection cannot be performed.

Firing Squad

Firing squad still remains as a method of execution in a couple states if lethal injection cannot be performed (Utah & Okla.). The most recent execution by this method was that of Ronnie Gardner. By his own choosing, Gardner was executed by firing squad in Utah on June 17, 2010.

Hanging

Until the 1890s, hanging was the primary method of execution used in the United States. Hanging is still used in Delaware and Washington, although both have lethal injection as an alternative method of execution. The last hanging to take place was January 25, 1996 in Delaware.

Methods of Execution Table of Contents

Hanging

the rope should be 3/4-inch to 1 1/4-inch in diameter

 

 

Sources

Sources

Amnesty International, "List of Abolitionist and Retentionist Countries," http://www.amnesty.org/en/death-penalty

D. Baker, "A Descriptive Profile and Socio-Historical Analysis of Female Executions in the United States: 1632-1997"; 10(3) Women and Criminal Justice 57 (1999)

Current Issues and Topics

Innocence The Supreme Court addressed the constitutionality of executing someone who claimed actual innocence in Herrera v. Collins (506 U.S. 390 (1993)). Although the Court left open the possibility that the Constitution bars the execution of someone who conclusively demonstrates that he or she is actually innocent, the Court noted that such cases would be very rare.