Trends In Methods Of Capital Punishment
The United States is one of few countries that still uses capital punishment for certain crimes like murder and treason. However, the method of execution has changed. Lethal injection is the current method of capital punishment used in 35 states which allow death penalty.
According to available statistics, there were 1,125 executions from 1976 until October 18, 2008. Of the 1,125 executions, 954 were by lethal injection, 155 prisoners were executed by electrocution, 11 by gassing, 3 were hanged till death and 2 prisoners were executed by a firing squad.
Electrocution was considered a gruesome method of execution during the 20th century. Nicknamed “Old Sparky”, the electric chair was first used in 1890 and remained the most common form of execution until the 1980s. No doubt this method of execution was shocking. It could burn a person alive if there were some malfunctions in it.
Since the electrocution method was considered a cruel form of execution, in 1921, the lawmakers in the state of Nevada chose gassing as a less violent form of execution. Prisoners were locked in sealed chambers and the chamber would then be flooded by lethal gas. However, death can be extremely painful as the gas has slow effect on the human body.
Hanging is another method used for executing criminals. The most recent legal U.S. hanging took place in 1996. Most states, except New Hampshire and Washington, have abolished this practice.
Lethal injection is the current method of execution followed in the United States. The U.S. first adopted this method of execution in 1982. The executioner injects 5g Pentothol, 100mg Pavulon and 100mEq potassium chloride in sequence. However due to occasional ineffectiveness of the drug Pentathol, a prisoner suffers extreme pain before dying. Thus, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that death row prisoners may challenge death by lethal injection under the 8th Amendment.
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