Electric chair

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Electric chair at the Florida State Prison Florida electric-chair.jpg
Electric chair at the Florida State Prison

Execution by electrocution, performed using an electric chair, is a method of execution originating in the United States in which the condemned person is strapped to a specially built wooden chair and electrocuted through electrodes fastened on the head and leg. This execution method, conceived in 1881 by a Buffalo, New York, dentist named Alfred P. Southwick, was developed throughout the 1880s as a "humane alternative" to hanging, and first used in 1890. This execution method has been used in the United States and, for a period of several decades, [1] in the Philippines. While death was originally theorized to result from damage to the brain, it was eventually shown in 1899 that it primarily results from ventricular fibrillation and eventual cardiac arrest. [2]

Capital punishment, also known as the death penalty, is a government-sanctioned practice whereby a person is killed by the state as a punishment for a crime. The sentence that someone be punished in such a manner is referred to as a death sentence, whereas the act of carrying out the sentence is known as an execution. Crimes that are punishable by death are known as capital crimes or capital offences, and they commonly include offences such as murder, mass murder, terrorism, treason, espionage, offenses against the State, such as attempting to overthrow government, piracy, drug trafficking, war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, but may include a wide range of offences depending on a country. Etymologically, the term capital in this context alluded to execution by beheading.

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

Electrocution is death or serious injury caused by electric shock, electric current passing through the body. The word is derived from "electro" and "execution", but it is also used for accidental death. The word is also used to describe non-fatal injuries due to electricity.


Once the person was attached to the chair, various cycles (differing in voltage and duration) of alternating current would be passed through the individual's body, in order to cause fatal damage to the internal organs. The first, more powerful jolt of electric current is intended to cause immediate unconsciousness, [3] [2] ventricular fibrillation, and eventual cardiac arrest. [2] The second, less powerful jolt is intended to cause fatal damage to the vital organs, where body temperatures can reach up to 100 °C (212 °F). [2]

Alternating current electric voltage which periodically reverses direction; form in which electric power is delivered to businesses and residences; form of electrical energy that consumers typically use when they plug electric appliances into a wall socket

Alternating current (AC) is an electric current which periodically reverses direction, in contrast to direct current (DC) which flows only in one direction. Alternating current is the form in which electric power is delivered to businesses and residences, and it is the form of electrical energy that consumers typically use when they plug kitchen appliances, televisions, fans and electric lamps into a wall socket. A common source of DC power is a battery cell in a flashlight. The abbreviations AC and DC are often used to mean simply alternating and direct, as when they modify current or voltage.

Although the electric chair has long been a symbol of the death penalty in the United States, its use is in decline due to the rise of lethal injection, which is widely believed to be a more humane method of execution. While some states still maintain electrocution as a method of execution, today it is only maintained as a secondary method that may be chosen over lethal injection at the request of the prisoner, except in Tennessee, where it may be used without input from the prisoner if the drugs for lethal injection are not available. [4] As of 2014, electrocution is an optional form of execution in the states of Alabama, Florida, South Carolina, and Virginia, all of which allow the prisoner to choose lethal injection as an alternative method. In the state of Kentucky, the electric chair has been retired, except for those whose capital crimes were committed prior to March 31, 1998, and who choose electrocution; inmates who do not choose electrocution and inmates who committed their crimes after the designated date are executed by lethal injection. Electrocution is also authorized in Kentucky in the event that lethal injection is found unconstitutional by a court. [5] In the U.S. state of Tennessee, the electric chair is available for use if lethal injection drugs are unavailable, or otherwise, if the inmate so chooses and if their capital crime was committed before 1999. The electric chair is an alternate form of execution approved for potential use in Arkansas, Mississippi, and Oklahoma if other forms of execution are found unconstitutional in the state at the time of execution.

Lethal injection form of execution

Lethal injection is the practice of injecting one or more drugs into a person for the express purpose of causing immediate death. The main application for this procedure is capital punishment, but the term may also be applied in a broader sense to include euthanasia and other forms of suicide. The drugs cause the person to become unconscious, stops their breathing, and causes a heart arrhythmia, in that order.

Alabama State of the United States of America

Alabama is a state in the southeastern region of the United States. It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Georgia to the east, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and Mississippi to the west. Alabama is the 30th largest by area and the 24th-most populous of the U.S. states. With a total of 1,500 miles (2,400 km) of inland waterways, Alabama has among the most of any state.

Florida State of the United States of America

Florida is the southernmost contiguous state in the United States. The state is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the northwest by Alabama, to the north by Georgia, to the east by the Atlantic Ocean, and to the south by the Straits of Florida. Florida is the 22nd-most extensive, the 3rd-most populous, and the 8th-most densely populated of the U.S. states. Jacksonville is the most populous municipality in the state and the largest city by area in the contiguous United States. The Miami metropolitan area is Florida's most populous urban area. Tallahassee is the state's capital.

On February 8, 2008, the Nebraska Supreme Court determined that execution by electric chair was a "cruel and unusual punishment" under the state's constitution. This brought executions of this type to an end in Nebraska, the only remaining state to retain electrocution as its sole method of execution. [6]

Nebraska State of the United States of America

Nebraska is a state that lies in both the Great Plains and the Midwestern United States. It is bordered by South Dakota to the north; Iowa to the east and Missouri to the southeast, both across the Missouri River; Kansas to the south; Colorado to the southwest; and Wyoming to the west. It is the only triply landlocked U.S. state.


In the late 1870s to early 1880s, the spread of arc lighting, a type of brilliant outdoor street lighting that required high voltages in the range of 3000–6000 volts, was followed by one story after another in newspapers about how the high voltages used were killing people, usually unwary linemen, a strange new phenomenon that seemed to instantaneously strike a victim dead without leaving a mark. [7] One of these accidents, in Buffalo, New York, on August 7, 1881, led to the inception of the electric chair. [8] That evening a drunken dock worker, looking for the thrill of a tingling sensation he had noticed before, managed to sneak his way into a Brush Electric Company arc lighting power house and grabbed the brush and ground of a large electric dynamo. He died instantly. The coroner who investigated the case brought it up at a local Buffalo scientific society. Another member, Alfred P. Southwick, a dentist who had a technical background, thought some application could be found for the curious phenomenon. [9]

Arc lamp a light created by electrical breakdown of gas

An arc lamp or arc light is a lamp that produces light by an electric arc. The carbon arc light, which consists of an arc between carbon electrodes in air, invented by Humphry Davy in the first decade of the 1800s, was the first practical electric light. It was widely used starting in the 1870s for street and large building lighting until it was superseded by the incandescent light in the early 20th century. It continued in use in more specialized applications where a high intensity point light source was needed, such as searchlights and movie projectors until after World War II. The carbon arc lamp is now obsolete for most of these purposes, but it is still used as a source of high intensity ultraviolet light.

Brush Electrical Machines

Brush Electrical Machines is a manufacturer of electrical generators typically for gas turbine and steam turbine driven applications. The main office is based at Loughborough in Leicestershire, UK.

Brush (electric) conveys electrical energy between moving and non-moving surfaces in electrical motors

A brush or carbon brush is a device which conducts current between stationary wires and moving parts, most commonly in a rotating shaft. Typical applications include electric motors, alternators and electric generators.

Southwick, local physician George E. Fell, and the head of the Buffalo ASPCA performed a series of experiments electrocuting hundreds of stray dogs, experimenting with animals in water, out of water, electrode types and placement, and conductive material until they came up with a repeatable method to euthanize animals using electricity. [10] Southwick went on in the early 1880s to advocate that this method be used as a more humane replacement for hanging in capital cases, coming to national attention when he published his ideas in scientific journals in 1882 and 1883. He worked out calculations based on the dog experiments, trying to develop a scaled-up method that would work on humans. Early on in his designs he adopted a modified version of the dental chair as a way to restrain the condemned, a device that from then on would be called the electric chair. [11]

George Fell American surgeon and inventor (1849-1918)

George Edward Fell was an American surgeon and inventor. He was an early developer of artificial ventilation and also investigated the physiology of electrocution, a line of research that led to Fell creating the final design for the first electric chair.

The Gerry Commission

After a series of botched hangings in the United States, there was mounting criticism of that form of capital punishment and the death penalty in general. In 1886, newly elected New York State governor David B. Hill set up a three-member death penalty commission, which was chaired by the human rights advocate and reformer Elbridge Thomas Gerry and included New York lawyer and politician Matthew Hale and Southwick, to investigate a more humane means of execution. [12]

A June 30, 1888 Scientific American illustration of what the electric chair suggested by the Gerry Commission might look like. EXECUTION BY ELECTRICITY electric chair illustration Scientific American Volumes 58-59 June 30 1888.png
A June 30, 1888 Scientific American illustration of what the electric chair suggested by the Gerry Commission might look like.

The commission members surveyed the history of execution and sent out a fact-finding questionnaire to government officials, lawyers, and medical experts all around the state asking for their opinion. [13] A slight majority of respondents recommended hanging over electrocution, with a few instead recommending the abolition of capital punishment. The commission also contacted electrical experts, including Thomson-Houston Electric Company's Elihu Thomson (who recommended high voltage AC connected to the head and the spine) and the inventor Thomas Edison (who also recommended AC, as well as using a Westinghouse generator). [14] [15] [16] They also attended electrocutions of dogs by George Fell who had worked with Southwick in the early 1880s experiments. Fell was conducting further experiments, electrocuting anesthetized dissected dogs trying to discern exactly how electricity killed a subject. [17] [14]

In 1888, the Commission recommended electrocution using Southwick's electric chair idea with metal conductors attached to the condemned person's head and feet. [8] They further recommended that executions be handled by the state instead of the individual counties with three electric chairs set up at Auburn, Clinton, and Sing Sing prisons. A bill following these recommendations passed the legislature and was signed by Governor Hill on June 4, 1888, set to go into effect on January 1, 1889.

The bill itself contained no details on the type or amount of electricity that should be used and the New York Medico-Legal Society, an informal society composed of doctors and lawyers, was given the task of determining these factors. In September 1888, a committee was formed and recommended 3000 volts, although the type of electricity, direct current (DC) or alternating current (AC), was not determined, and since tests up to that point had been done on animals smaller than a human (dogs), some members were unsure that the lethality of AC had been conclusively proven. [18]

Harold Brown demonstrating the killing power of AC to the New York Medico-Legal Society by electrocuting a horse at Thomas Edison's West Orange laboratory. Harold Pitney Brown edison electrocute horse 1888 New York Medico-Legal Journal vol 6 issue 4.png
Harold Brown demonstrating the killing power of AC to the New York Medico-Legal Society by electrocuting a horse at Thomas Edison's West Orange laboratory.

At this point the state's efforts to design the electric chair became intermixed with what has become to be known as the War of Currents, a competition between Thomas Edison's direct current power system and George Westinghouse's alternating current based system. The two companies had been competing commercially since 1886 and a series of events had turned it into an all-out media war in 1888. The committee head, neurologist Frederick Peterson, enlisted the services of Harold P. Brown as a consultant. Brown had been on his own crusade against alternating current after the shoddy installation of pole-mounted AC arc lighting lines in New York City had caused several deaths in early 1888. Peterson had been an assistant at Brown's July 1888 public electrocution of dogs with AC at Columbia College, an attempt by Brown to prove AC was more deadly than DC. [18] Technical assistance in these demonstrations was provided by Thomas Edison's West Orange laboratory and there grew to be some form of collusion between Edison Electric and Brown. [19] [20] [21] Back at West Orange on December 5, 1888 Brown set up an experiment with members of the press, members of the Medico-Legal Society including Elbridge Gerry who was also chairman of the death penalty commission, and Thomas Edison looking on. Brown used alternating current for all of his tests on animals larger than a human, including 4 calves and a lame horse, all dispatched with 750 volts of AC. [22] Based on these results the Medico-Legal Society recommended the use of 1000–1500 volts of alternating current for executions and newspapers noted the AC used was half the voltage used in the power lines over the streets of American cities. Westinghouse criticized these test as a skewed self-serving demonstration designed to be a direct attack on alternating current and accused Brown of being in the employ of Edison. [23]

At the request of death penalty commission chairman Gerry, Medico-Legal Society members; electrotherapy expert Alphonse David Rockwell, Carlos Frederick MacDonald, and Columbia College professor Louis H. Laudy, were given the task of working out the details of electrode placement. [24] [25] [26] They again turned to Brown to supply the technical assistance. Brown asked Edison Electric Light to supply equipment for the tests and treasurer Francis S. Hastings (who seemed to be one of the primary movers at the company trying to portray Westinghouse as a peddler of death dealing AC current [21] ) tried to obtain a Westinghouse AC generator for the test but found none was to be had. [24] They ended up using Edison's West Orange laboratory for the animal tests they conducted in mid-March 1889. Superintendent of Prisons Austin E. Lathrop asked Brown to design the chair, but Brown turned down the offer. [24] Dr. George Fell drew up the final designs for a simple oak chair and went against the Medico-Legal Society recommendations, changing the position of the electrodes to the head and the middle of the back. [17] Brown did take on the job of finding the generators needed to power the chair. He managed to surreptitiously acquire three Westinghouse AC generators that were being decommissioned with the help of Edison and Westinghouse's chief AC rival, the Thomson-Houston Electric Company, a move that made sure that Westinghouse's equipment would be associated with the first execution. [27] The electric chair was built by Edwin F. Davis, the first "state electrician" (executioner) for the State of New York. [28]

First execution

The execution of William Kemmler, August 6, 1890 Kemmler execute par l'electricite.jpg
The execution of William Kemmler, August 6, 1890

The first person in line to die under New York's new electrocution law was Joseph Chappleau, convicted for beating his neighbor to death with a sled stake, but his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. [29] The next person scheduled to be executed was William Kemmler, convicted of murdering his wife with a hatchet. An appeal on Kemmler's behalf was made to the New York Court of Appeals on the grounds that use of electricity as a means of execution constituted a cruel and unusual punishment and was thus contrary to the constitutions of the United States and the state of New York. [30] On December 30, 1889, the writ of habeas corpus sworn out on Kemmler's behalf was denied by the court, with Judge Dwight writing in a lengthy ruling:

We have no doubt that if the Legislature of this State should undertake to proscribe for any offense against its laws the punishment of burning at the stake, breaking at the wheel, etc., it would be the duty of the courts to pronounce upon such attempt the condemnation of the Constitution. The question now to be answered is whether the legislative act here assailed is subject to the same condemnation. Certainly, it is not so on its face, for, although the mode of death described is conceded to be unusual, there is no common knowledge or consent that it is cruel; it is a question of fact whether an electric current of sufficient intensity and skillfully applied will produce death without unnecessary suffering. [31]

Kemmler was executed in New York's Auburn Prison on August 6, 1890; the "state electrician" was Edwin F. Davis. The first 17-second passage of 1,000 volts AC of current through Kemmler caused unconsciousness, but failed to stop his heart and breathing. The attending physicians, Edward Charles Spitzka and Carlos F. MacDonald, came forward to examine Kemmler. After confirming Kemmler was still alive, Spitzka reportedly called out, "Have the current turned on again, quick, no delay." The generator needed time to re-charge, however. In the second attempt, Kemmler received a 2,000 volt AC shock. Blood vessels under the skin ruptured and bled, and the areas around the electrodes singed. The entire execution took about eight minutes. George Westinghouse later commented that, "They would have done better using an axe", [32] and a witnessing reporter claimed that it was "an awful spectacle, far worse than hanging". [33]


Electric chair history and laws in the United States
Color key:
Secondary method only
Has previously used electric chair, but does not today
Has never used electric chair Map of US electric chair usage.svg
Electric chair history and laws in the United States
Color key:
  Secondary method only
  Has previously used electric chair, but does not today
  Has never used electric chair

The electric chair was adopted by Ohio (1897), Massachusetts (1900), New Jersey (1906) and Virginia (1908), and soon became the prevalent method of execution in the United States, replacing hanging. Most of the states that currently use or have used the electric chair lie east of the Mississippi River. The electric chair remained the most prominent execution method until the mid-1980s when lethal injection became widely accepted for conducting judicial executions.

Other countries appear to have contemplated using the method, sometimes for special reasons. The only country other than the United States to use the electric chair was the Philippines, although the method was discontinued after 1976.

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom considered replacing hanging with the electric chair (as well as considering the gas chamber, shooting, the guillotine and lethal injection) during the Royal Commission on Capital Punishment, the findings of which were published in 1953. The Commission concluded that the electric chair had no particular advantages over hanging, and so, the electric chair was not adopted for use in the United Kingdom.

The United Kingdom performed its last execution in 1964, and abolished capital punishment for murder the following year, thereby rendering any debate over method moot.

Current use

A number of states still allow the condemned person to choose between electrocution and lethal injection. In all, fourteen inmates nationwide – seven in Virginia, three in South Carolina, three in Tennessee and one in Arkansas  – have opted for electrocution over lethal injection. The most recent use of the chair was on December 6, 2018, when David Earl Miller was executed in Tennessee after he elected to die by electrocution over lethal injection.

After 1966, electrocutions ceased for a time in the United States, but the method continued in the Philippines. [34] A well-publicized triple execution took place in May 1972, when Jaime Jose, Basilio Pineda and Edgardo Aquino were electrocuted for the 1967 abduction and gang-rape of the young actress Maggie de la Riva. The last execution in the Philippines was in 2000, utilizing lethal injection, and the death penalty was abolished six years later.

Notable persons and events in the United States

The former Louisiana execution chamber at the Red Hat Cell Block in the Louisiana State Penitentiary, West Feliciana Parish. The electric chair is a replica of the original. RedHatsExecutionChamber.jpg
The former Louisiana execution chamber at the Red Hat Cell Block in the Louisiana State Penitentiary, West Feliciana Parish. The electric chair is a replica of the original.

Serial killer Lizzie Halliday was the first woman sentenced to die in the electric chair, in 1894, but governor Roswell P. Flower commuted her sentence to life in a mental institution after a medical commission declared her insane. [35] [36] A second woman sentenced to death in 1895, Maria Barbella, was acquitted the next year. [37] Martha M. Place became the first woman to receive the deadly current when she was executed in the electric chair at Sing Sing Prison on March 20, 1899, for the murder of her 17-year-old stepdaughter, Ida Place. [38]

Leon Czolgosz was electrocuted at the Auburn State Prison in New York on October 29, 1901 for the assassination of President William McKinley.

In a botched execution at Clinton Prison in Dannemora, New York, on October 1, 1903, three brothers – Willis, Frederick, and Burton Van Wormer, condemned for murdering their uncle on December 24, 1901 – were electrocuted one after the other over the course of about 15 minutes and pronounced dead. [39] After their bodies were laid out in the prison′s autopsy room, however, Frederick′s body was seen to move, and the prison doctor determined that his heart was still beating. [39] He was returned to the electric chair [39] and the executioner, who had gone home, was called back to re-electrocute him,[ citation needed ] but he died before any more shocks could be administered. [39]

The electrocution of housewife Ruth Snyder at Sing Sing on the evening of January 12, 1928, for the March 1927 murder of her husband was made famous when news photographer Tom Howard, working for the New York Daily News , smuggled a hidden camera into the death chamber and photographed her in the electric chair as the current was turned on. The photograph was a front-page sensation the following morning, and remains one of the most famous photojournalism photographs of all time. [40]

A record was set on July 13, 1928, when seven men were executed consecutively in the electric chair at the Kentucky State Penitentiary in Eddyville, Kentucky.[ citation needed ]

Bruno Richard Hauptmann, convicted of the 1932 kidnapping and murder of Charles Lindbergh, Jr., the infant son of Charles Lindbergh and Anne Morrow Lindbergh, was electrocuted on April 3, 1936, at the New Jersey State Prison in Trenton, New Jersey. [41] [42] [43]

On August 8, 1942, six German agents convicted of espionage and attempted sabotage in the Quirin case for their role in Operation Pastorius during World War II were executed by electric chair at the District of Columbia Jail in Washington, D.C. [44]

On June 16, 1944, an African-American teenager, 14-year-old George Stinney, became the youngest person ever executed in the electric chair when he was electrocuted at the Central Correctional Institution in Columbia, South Carolina. [45]

Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were electrocuted on June 19, 1953, after being convicted of espionage for sharing secrets related to the atomic bomb with the Soviet Union. [46] Julius died after a single shock, but Ethel's heart was still beating when she was unstrapped from the electric chair after three shocks, so she was strapped in again and shocked twice more, finally completing her execution. [46]

James French was executed on August 10, 1966, the last person electrocuted until 1979. French was the first person executed in Oklahoma since Richard Dare was electrocuted June 1, 1963, and the only person executed in 1966.[ citation needed ]

On May 25, 1979, John Spenkelink became the first person to be electrocuted after the Gregg v. Georgia decision by the Supreme Court of the United States in 1976. He was the first person to be executed in the United States in this manner since 1966. Serial murderer and rapist Ted Bundy was executed in the same electric chair in Florida on January 24, 1989.

The last person to be executed by electric chair without the choice of an alternative method was Lynda Lyon Block on May 10, 2002, in Alabama. [47]


The use of the electric chair has declined as legislators sought what they believed to be more humane methods of execution. Lethal injection became the most widely used method, aided by media reports of botched electrocutions in the early 1980s.

The electric chair has been criticized because of several instances in which the subjects were killed only after being subjected to multiple electric shocks. This led to a call for ending of the practice, as being a cruel and unusual punishment. [48] Trying to address such concerns, Nebraska introduced a new electrocution protocol in 2004, which called for administration of a 15-second-long application of electric current at a potential of 2,450 volts; after a 15-minute wait, an official then checks for signs of life. In April 2007, new concerns raised regarding the 2004 protocol resulted in the ushering in of the current Nebraska protocol, calling for a 20-second-long application of electric current at a potential of 2,450 volts. Prior to the 2004 protocol change, an initial eight-second application of current at 2,450 volts was administered, followed by a one-second pause, then a 22-second application at 480 volts. After a 20-second break, the cycle was repeated three more times.

In 1946, the electric chair failed to kill Willie Francis, who reportedly shrieked, "Take it off! Let me breathe!", after the current was applied. It turned out that the portable electric chair had been improperly set up by an intoxicated prison guard and inmate. [49] A case was brought before the U.S. Supreme Court (Louisiana ex rel. Francis v. Resweber), [50] with lawyers for the condemned arguing that although Francis did not die, he had, in fact, been executed. The argument was rejected on the basis that re-execution did not violate the double jeopardy clause of the 5th Amendment of the United States Constitution, and Francis was returned to the electric chair and successfully executed in 1947.

Recorded incidents of botched electrocutions were prevalent after the national moratorium ended January 17, 1977; two in Alabama, three in Florida, one in Georgia, one in Indiana, and three in Virginia. All five states now have lethal injection as the default method if a choice is not made.

As of 2015, the only places in the world that still reserve the electric chair as an option for execution are the U.S. states of Alabama, Florida, South Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia. Arkansas and Oklahoma laws provide for its use should lethal injection ever be held to be unconstitutional. Inmates in the other states must select either it or lethal injection. In Kentucky, only inmates sentenced before a certain date can choose to be executed by electric chair. Electrocution is also authorized in Kentucky in the event that lethal injection is found unconstitutional by a court. [51] Tennessee was among the states that provided inmates with a choice of the electric chair or lethal injection; in May 2014, however, the state passed a law allowing the use of the electric chair if lethal injection drugs were unavailable or made unconstitutional. [52] In the U.S. state of Florida, on July 8, 1999, Allen Lee Davis, convicted of murder, was executed in the Florida electric chair "Old Sparky". Davis' face was bloodied, and photographs were taken, which were later posted on the Internet. An investigation concluded that Davis had begun bleeding before the electricity was applied and that the chair had functioned as designed. Florida's Supreme Court ruled that the chair did not constitute cruel and unusual punishment. [53] The 1997 execution of Pedro Medina in Florida created controversy when flames burst from the inmate's head. An autopsy found that Medina had died instantly when the first surge of electricity had destroyed his brain and brain stem, and a judge ruled that Florida's electric chair was in ‘excellent condition’. [54] Lethal injection has been the primary method of execution in Florida since 2000. On February 15, 2008, the Nebraska Supreme Court declared execution by electrocution to be "cruel and unusual punishment" prohibited by the Nebraska Constitution. [55]

The most recent executions by electrocution were Edmund Zagorski on November 1, 2018, and David Earl Miller on December 6, 2018, both executed in the electric chair at the Riverbend Maximum Security Institution in Nashville, Tennessee. The most recent execution in the electric chair outside of Tennessee was Robert Gleason, who was electrocuted at the Greensville Correctional Center in Jarratt, Virginia, on January 16, 2013. [56] [57] [58] [59]

See also

Nicknames of various electric chairs
State electricians


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  59. Tennessee executes Edmund Zagorski by electric chair

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