Apr 28, 2017

4 legal alternatives to lethal injection in the US

Dave Martin / AP

This afternoon, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson said he would not call for an investigation into lethal injection procedures, despite yesterday's execution when the prisoner convulsed for several minutes, according to eye witnesses. (Why Arkansas rushed several executions this week, here.)

Despite recent botched executions and problems getting the drugs, lethal injection is the primary means of execution in the 31 states that impose the death penalty. However, several states offer alternative methods of execution. Here they are in order of popularity, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

1. Electrocution

  • # of executions since 1976: 158
  • Legal in: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia
  • Time until death: 2-15+ minutes, according to NBC News
  • Why it phased out: There were two negatively publicized executions in the late '90s — one prisoner's head burst into flames and photos of another's bloody face post-execution surfaced online.

2. Gas Chamber

  • # of executions since 1976: 11
  • Legal in: Arizona, California, Missouri, Wyoming and Oklahoma
  • Time until death: 10-18 minutes

3. Hanging

  • # of executions since 1976: 3
  • Legal in: Delaware, New Hampshire and Washington
  • Time until death: 4-11 minutes

4. Firing squad

  • # of executions since 1976: 3
  • Legal in: Oklahoma, Utah
  • Time until death: Less than a minute

Worldwide: Despite it's low ranking in the U.S., hanging is the most popular execution method world-wide, followed by firing squad, beheading, lethal injection and electrocution, according to Al Jazeera. The U.S. is the only country to use electrocution.

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