The Death Sentence
Forms of Execution
Hanging is the age old method of the execution of a criminal. The criminal will be led up to a platform, then a special suffocating rope(which takes form in a noose) will be placed around the neck; the support below the criminal will be dropped and the criminal will hang till he/she dies. This was changed later on so that the criminal will not be suffocated when dropped but the neck will be broken thus killing the criminal instantly. The hangmen used a special table of weights with falling distances developed by Yorkshire executioner James Berry in the late 1800's, so that the criminal could be dropped within the distance that killed them instantly and did not leave them hanging still alive. The origins of hanging was said to be from Persia where it was passed onto the Anglo-Saxons; England has been using the hanging form of execution since the 12th century where it was used publicly until 1868, where it was then moved to the privacy of the prisons. England abolished the death penalty in 1964 so now murderers would only receive a life sentence, the USA, however, still uses hanging as a form of execution.
Electric Chair -
The use of electrocution as a form of execution has been only used in the USA and this was introduced in 1890. It was first used at Auburn State Prison in New York on 6 August 1890. It was argued that the electric chair(also known as 'Thunderbolt' and 'Old Sparky') was not as humane as hanging but many US states adopted it. The criminal will be strapped into a chair securely and then a death cap containing an electrode that kills the criminal will be fastened to the shaven head by a strap, the cap also contains a sponge with salt solution which improves contact and prevents burning. Another electrode is attached to the criminal's ankle and the executioner throws the switch which in turn, 2,250 volts travel through both electrodes and electrocutes the criminal. The electric charge is held for three seconds and then is repeated four more times in two minutes. The criminal will be dead within the time from the stoppage of the heart and respiration. The death penalty in the USA was suspended in 1972 but was re-activated in 1976 and 'Old Sparky' still remains a form of execution .
Gas Chamber -
The gas chamber was first used in the USA, in the state of Nevada in 1921. The criminal is brought into an airtight chamber and then sat in a chair where his legs and arms are strapped up. After the chamber has been sealed up, acid is released into a bowl, then an executioner activates a lever which lowers cyanide into the acid bowl, producing the deadly gas. The criminal(if he wishes) will take deep breaths in order to make loss of consciousness quicker. Two minutes or less inhalation of the cyanide gas produces death. A doctor outside will be monitoring the criminals heart by a stephoscope attached to the criminals chest which leads outside and will pronounce when the criminal has died. The chambers lethal gas is sucked out by a fan and the dead body is sprayed with liquid ammonia to destroy any other traces of the deadly gas. The gas chamber cannot be accepted as a humane way of dying as the condemned criminal can postpone(unlike any other forms of execution) the gas by holding his breath(but then the question raised is do they deserve it?), the advised way for the criminal to die is taking deep breaths to aid in his own death. The gas chamber still remains in 5 American states.
Methods of execution in US states -
Lethal Injection - Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wyoming.
Electrocution - Arkansas, Conneticut, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Nebraska, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia.
Lethal Gas - Arizona, California, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina.
Hanging - Montana, New Hampshire, Washington.
Firing Squad - Idaho, Utah.