FORMS OF EXECUTION
Hanging used to be the primary method of execution until the 1890s in the US. It is still used in Delaware and Washington today, but the last hanging to take place was January 1996.
The inmate is weighed the day before the execution and a rehearsal is done using a sandbag. This is to determine the length of the "drop" that will ensure a quick death. The rope should be 3/4 inch to 1 1/4 inch and must be boiled and stretched. The knot is to be lubricated with wax or soap.
Before the execution, the prisoner's hands and legs are secured, the prisoner is blindfolded, and the noose placed behind the prisoner's neck with the knot behind the left ear.
The execution takes place when the trap-door is opened and the prisoner falls through.
This method is used in Utah and Oklahoma if the lethal injection cannot be performed.
The inmate is bound to a chair with leather straps across his/her waist and head in front of an oval-shaped canvas wall. A black hood is pulled over the inmate's head and a circular white cloth is pinned to the inmate's heart by a doctor.
5 shooters are placed 20 feet away armed with .30 caliber rifles loaded with single grounds. One of the shooters is given blank rounds.
New York first built the electric chair in 1888 to seek a more human method of execution. It remains a choice for inmates or an option if the lethal injection cannot be performed.
The prisoner is shaved and strapped to a chair with belts across his or her chest, groin, legs, and arms. A metal skullcap-shaped electrode is attached to the scalp and forehead moistened with saline. The sponge should not be too wet or too dry. Another electrode is moistened with conductive jelly and attached to a portion of the prisoner's leg that has been shaved. The prisoner is also blindfolded.
A jolt between 500 and 2000 volts (30 seconds) is given. The doctors check to see if the heart is still beating and if it is, another volt is administered. The process is repeated until the prisoner is dead.
In 1977, Oklahoma became the first state to adopt the lethal injection. All states today have this method in use.
The prisoner is usually bound to a gurney and a member of the execution team positions heart monitors on his or her skin. Two needles are inserted into usable veins (in the inmate's arms) and long tubes connect the needle through a hole to intravenous drips. The inmate is then injected with sodium thiopental (an anesthetic), and then pavulon (pancuronium bromide) paralyzes the muscle system and stop the inmate's breathing. Potassium chloride is then administered and stops the heart.
The use of cyanide gas was introduced as Nevada sought a more humane way of executing its inmates. Today, five states offer lethal gas as a method of execution, but all five use lethal injection as their primary method.
For this method, the condemned person is strapped to a chair in an airtight chamber. Below the chair is a pail of sulfuric acid. The executioner flips a lever that releases crystals of sodium cyanide into the pail, which causes a chemical reaction that releases hydrogen cyanide gas.
In 2015, Oklahoma adopted the use of nitrogen gas in executions if the lethal injection cannot be performed. It has never been used in an execution.