In the United States today, there are five existing methods of execution. These methods are used to kill convicted criminals that have been given the sentence of the death penalty. The different methods are; lethal injection, electrocution, gas chamber, hanging, and firing squad shootings. Lethal injection is currently used by thirty-six states in America. It is the most commonly used form of execution in the U.S. The preparation begins outside of the chamber with the use of a gurney. The convict is held to the gurney by wrist and ankle straps. There is then a cardiac monitor and stethoscope attached and started. In each arm, there is a saline intravenous line. The convict is then covered by a sheet. The lines are turned off and the felon receives the first injection of sodium thiopental. This puts the felon to sleep. They are then injected with Pavulon, which relaxes all of the muscles in the body and stops breathing. Shortly after, the felon dies.
The second method of execution is electrocution. This method is done by putting the person in a wooden chair, which they are secured to by leather straps. The electric current runs through the head and out the leg. The first current is of two thousand or more volts of electricity, lasting only an approximated three seconds. The voltage is then lowered to help prevent external burning of the body. The initial shock of the electricity causes the person’s body to surge forward. The shock burns the internal organs or the person, which leaves them dead. During this process urinating, vomiting of blood, change in skin color, and even swelling or burning of the skin may occur. This method of execution is currently used by only eleven states.
In a gas chamber execution, the prisoner is put in a sealed steel chamber. The prisoner is restrained in a chair that has a pan below. At the first signal, a valve is opened which releases hydrochloric acid into the pan. When a second signal is given tablets or crystals of about eight ounces of potassium cyanide is dropped into the acid. This combination creates a hydrocyanic gas. The fumes of this deadly gas rise and are inhaled by the prisoner, which kills them. The prisoner is pronounced dead and then the gas is sucked out of the chamber by big fans. Before the body is taken out it is sprayed with ammonia to neutralize any gas that still existed. Execution by the gas chamber started in an attempt to find a more humane method than the electric chair. The gas chamber is currently used by only five states, which is less than electrocution.
One of the oldest methods of execution that is still used, though in only three states, is hanging. This method is based on the person’s weight; therefore the person must be weighed prior to the hanging. The right amount of weight is needed in “the drop” to make sure that the death is instant and of minimal bruising (Sandholzer, 1999). If the weight is not of the proper amount it can cause a person to be strangled or possibly beheaded. The way that this is performed is by the use of a noose, which is placed behind the person’s left ear. When dropped the person’s neck is dislocated, causing death. The last of executions still used, which is also an old one, is shooting by a firing squad. Execution by a firing squad is the most popular in the world. More than sixty countries use it as a method. In the United States, however, only three states use shooting by a firing squad as a sentence to the death penalty.
The way in which shooting takes place starts with the prisoner being bound to a chair and placed in front of an oval wall. The doctor locates the heart by use of a stethoscope and places a target over it. Only twenty feet from the target are the trained shooters. Only one of the shooters’ guns holds the bullet that will take the life of the convict. They all shoot their guns at once so that no one knows who made the fatal shot. All of these procedures are done fast, and with the least amount of pain possible, if any at all. For anyone to say that these methods are not humane, would be unrealistic. The convicts who have been sentenced to walk the green mile have really gotten off easy in my eyes. Many of them have committed cruel, torturous acts on innocent human beings. Why do they deserve to die in a peaceful, humane way? They don’t, but because under our constitution, no one shall undergo cruel and unusual punishment, though that is what they have done to others. Felons should feel lucky that capital punishment is so humane.