Electric chair question

I just had someone ask me this and I had no idea and I really don’t know where to look to find out. How many volts (amps?) of elctricity does it take to kill some one with the electirc chair? or at least how many do they use?

No, I’m not building my own. I was just asked and I thought I should know for some reason.


This website mentions the following:

Hope that helps.

Data from electrical accidents would indicate that it frequently takes less than the “big house” administers to kill a person. Occasionally someone survives (sort of) higher voltages and possibly amperages due to unusual conditions.

This is true. The OP asked how much electricity it takes to kill a person in the electric chair. It should be noted that several people have survived the electric chair…at least temporarily because they are usually re-electrocuted till they are dead.

In the case of Willie Francis (also mentioned in the link I provided above) the chair was wired incorrectly. While he was electrocuted it was not sufficient to kill him. His case went to the Supreme Court where those representing Francis suggested that electrocuting him again constituted cruel and unusual punishment which is prohibited by the 8[sup]th[/sup] Amendment. The court disagreed and Francis was successfully killed in the electric chair about a year after the first attempt. The even sadder part to this is the link above suggests that Francis was almost certainly innocent of the crime for which he was being put to death (I don’t know if that is true or not).

John Louis Evans was put to death by electric chair in 1983. However, it took three separate discharges for a total of 14 minutes before it was done.

Some who support the use of the electric chair say it is humane as the electricity almost instantly overloads the brain thus not allowing pain to be felt. Willie Francis described the experience as unbearably painful but electric chair supporters note that he was hooked-up improperly. The truth, of course, is only truly known by dead people killed in the chair. Whatever the case the chair is certainly gruesome to behold in use. Cooking flesh, bleeding, vomiting, bowel release and a bevy of other nastiness often accompany the process.

Who was the lightly fried dude who jumped out of his own coffin and tried to run away?

Or is that story just more bullshit fed to me by Strange Stories and Amazing Facts?

The whole things sounds pretty cruel to me and I think a lethal injection would be much preferable.

Reminds me of the story about some guy who was sentenced to death in some poor rural county in some backward southern state. They told him all they could afford was a gas chamber … as they are strapping him to the chair the condemned man start to laugh as he looks up as sees there is no ceiling or roof and he could see the sky. “What kind of gas chamber is this you idiots? How do you think you’re gonna kill me in here?”

One of the men tying him down says “Just wait until the propane bottles start raining on you” :slight_smile:

You can read Fred Leuchter’s electric chair specs here. He says that:

There’s an interesting documentary out there about Leuchter called “Mr. Death”, telling about how he came to design execution equipment for various states, how he testified for a modern Nazi and became a Holocaust denier, and how it pretty much ruined his life. Interesting story; too bad the guy can’t admit to himself that he could ever be wrong about anything.

I’ve heard it told (but don’t know if it is true) that many people have a severe allergic reaction to the deadly chemicals used in lethal injections. Supposedly if you are unfortunate enough to be allergic (beyond being unfortunate to be on a lethal injection table in the first place) your death will be quite unpleasant.