One man’s taking of another’s life is generally seen as an unforgivable act which is
By far one of the most well known and publicly glamorized of all methods of
chamber and strapped to the point of immobility into a reinforced chair with belts
crossing his chest, groin, legs, and arms. Two copper electrodes, dipped in brine or
treated with Eletro-Creme to increase conductivity, are attached to him, one to his leg
and the other to his head. The first jolt, between five-hundred and two-thousand volts
and suffocating since the shock cause respiratory paralysis as well as cardiac arrest.
is presumed dead (”This is your death…”). How ironic that one reason electrocution was
kept in use was that, although expensive, it was immensely serene as far as the prisoner is
Still used extensively throughout the world today and in its sole representing U.S.
into the heart generally cause instantaneous death. Utah uses an extremely exact and
well-practiced method which is immensely centered around concern for the victim by
taking almost every precaution possible to ensure a quick and easy death. The victim is
bound to a chair with leather straps that cross his waist and head. Next a doctor locates
Twenty feet away, on the other side of a canvas wall, are five men with .30-caliber rifles.
Each man aims through a gun portal located in the center of the canvas and fire
simultaneously. A prisoner dies as a result of blood loss caused by rupture of the heart or
fall in the supply of blood to the brain. Though a shot to the head causes instant death
countries deliberately alter these steps in order to cause a more gruesome death. In
painful places. After nearly and hour of misery the officials take the fifth and final shot
into the heart (Hoff and Petrucelli). It is astounding how one country will do all humanly
possible to try to make death a quick and easy procedure while another tries to do all they
can to make it as painful and agonizing as possible.
The gas chamber, most famous for its abundant use during World War II, is the
led into a room and fastened to a metal chair with perforated seats. Straps are secured
across his upper and lower legs, arms, groin, and chest. A long stethoscope is also affixed
to his chest so that a doctor outside of the room can pronounce death. Underneath the
sodium cyanide pellets suspended in a gauze bag just above. After the door is closed and
seat of the chair. According to doctors, the victim “will feel unable to breathe, but will
not immediately lose consciousness,” a statement which contradicts the previous belief
that the victim is becomes unconscious instantly, which eliminates all pain and suffering.
What actually happens is that pain like that of a heart attack begins immediately and is
felt in the arms, shoulders, back and chest. The initial physical result is spasms, as in an
epileptic seizure, which will not stop for ten to twelve minutes, but the straps restrain
most involuntary body movements (”This is your death…). How strange that something
assumption that it is painless because it rapidly dislocates the neck. The usual hanging
begins with a rope fastened around the neck of a prisoner, the knot under his left ear.
Next, the trap door upon which he is standing is opened causing a violent jerk when the
rope tightens. Then, he is left hanging until it is absolutely sure that he is dead.
According to Harold Hillman, a British physiologist, the dangling person feels cervical
pain, and probably suffers from an acute headache as well, a result of the rope closing off
the veins to the neck. “The belief that fracture of the spinal cord cause immediate death is
wrong in all but a small fraction of cases. The actual cause of death is strangulation or
suffocation.” First, after the trap doors opens, the prisoner’s weight causes tearing of the
cervical muscles, skin, and blood vessels. The upper cervical vertebrae is the dislocated
and spinal cord finally separated from the brain, causing death. This can take anywhere
from fifteen seconds to fifteen minutes (”This is your death…”). So much for doing the
prisoner a favor by giving him such a smooth and rapid death.
First used in the United States in 1977, lethal injection is now is the most
widespread with its use in twenty-three states. Of all the methods found in the U.S., it is
by far the most humane and least likely to have costly mistakes (Matthews). The prisoner
is strapped to a hospital gurney, built with an extension panel for the left arm.
Technicians stick a catheter needle into his arm and long tubes connect it through a wall
to several intravenous drips. The first which was started immediately is harmless saline
milligrams so the prisoner receives two-thousand. As soon as he loses consciousness he is
given pavulon, a common muscle relaxant used in heart surgery. The dose now is
one-hundred milligrams, ten times the usual which stops his breathing, which would kill
him in ten minutes. To speed this up however, an equal dose of potassium chloride,
which is used in bypass surgery to stop the heart from pumping, is given and it works in
ten seconds (”This is your death…”). It is not hard to see why this is regarded as the best
as far as the prisoner is concerned.
While the aforementioned methods are widely known to be still in use, the
following is most likely thought to have disappeared long ago. Beheading, which is
known mainly because of the guillotine in the French Revolution, is still being carried
out by sword in countries such as Saudi Arabia. Like hanging, beheading was originally
thought of as quick and sure but recent medical finding show that oxygenated blood still
in the brain may allow consciousness and pain for up to thirty seconds. Reports have
even been that the severed head surveyed the crowd after its decapitation (Matthews).
When the day arrives for a prisoner in Saudi Arabia to be executed, he is taken to a
the crime was committed to give some retribution for what was done (Moorehead). The
executioner emerges from the crowd, brandishing a scimitar and robed in all black. He
positions himself upstage allowing the victim to face Mecca, but still giving the audience
an unobstructed view. He grasps his sword firmly with both hands, coils back his body,
and lashes out at the back of the condemned’s neck. The prisoner’s head falls and the
deed is done, a crude and rudimentary execution with little concern for anyone involved
About as rare and abnormal as beheading, stoning is still instituted in some
basically the same procedures with a few modern revisions. The condemned is bound
hand and foot and buried up to the neck in sand with a white sheet placed over their head.
indicates death. As one of these modern day “improvements” however, Iran’s law forbids
tell a lot about a country’s society by the method of execution which they use. A country
that uses lethal injection, hanging, or any other of these “humane” methods must care
enough about their people to try and make their executions one that is less to them. On
the other side, if a country uses public beheading, stoning, or other inhumane methods,
they must have little regard for their citizens that they prefer them to suffer in
excruciating pain than they die in a quick and easy without remorse. The United States
remotely humane. They have even removed electrocution from a few states and replaced
it with things such as lethal injection, even though electrocution is much more “kind” to
the condemned than a handful of other methods present in the world. It must take a very
backwards society to use methods which allow the public to participate in the execution.
All that thisdoes is make everyone want to be a part of this sadistic act and whose
throw the first stone.
Whether it is done by hanging, firing squad, or stoning, all of these methods end
in the same way, someone’s death. This may be quick or the condemned may be writhing
in pain during their execution. All these different techniques show the amount of regard
for the lives of citizens in the countries in which they are used.
Hoff, Gary and Linda Petrucelli. “Law of Revenge Prevails in Taiwan.” The
Christian Century. 10 October 1990:893(2). Infotrac. MIC 56M0102.
Kaplan, David A. and Glick Danil. “Ready, aim … fire; Utah schedules an execution
by firing squad.” Newsweek. 29 January 1996:54. Infotrac.
1995:38-42. Rpt. in SIRS. Corrections, 1995:5:55.
Infotrac. MIC 79K0041.
“This is your death; capital punishment: what really happens.” The New Republic. 1
July 1991:23(4). Infotrac. MIC 60F0296.
Beheading.” Commonweal. 10 February 1995:4-5. Infotrac. MIC 77H0002.