Executions-any states still use the chair or the chamber?

Watching an episode of Law & Order, I started to wonder-do any states that have the death penalty, do any of them still use the electric chair, or the gas chamber? Or is it all by lethal injection now?

Here ya go.. Lethal injection, hanging, electrocution, the gas chamber, and firing squad are still allowed means of executions in some states. Lthal injection is by far the most common means in states that actually use their death penalty with any regularity. Utah had its last firing squad execution in 1996 and it has since been banned for persons newly convicted of a capital crime. This is actually a pretty long and complex topic but each of those methods can still be conceivebly used in some states.

From what I can find, Nebraska is the only state that has electrocution as the only option, and three people have been executed by that state in recent times. All other states which have death penalties on the books have lethal injections as a method, mainly as the preferred option. Some retain other options purely as an alternative, in case lethal injection should ever be ruled unconstitutional.

So Idaho and New Hampshire seem to regard lethal injection as potentially being “impractical” or not possible… What circumstances would rule out lethal injection? (Weak or scarred veins? A lifelong IV drug user? I can’t see how that would affect it.)

Or are they simply referring to possible future court decisions?

I believe that here in Nebraska, we are the only state left that still uses the electric chair. What a shame.

Yes, exactly that. The needle is fairly large (compared to, say, an insulin syringe), and death row inmates sometimes have weakened or collapsed veins from IV drug use. Some states have resorted to what is called the “cut down method,” in which a vein is laid open by a scalpel so that the needle may be more easily inserted. When I met warden who operated the prison in Hunstville where the death chamber is kept, he was very adamant that Texas does not use the cut down method.

Who decides what method a prisoner will be executed with?

Why would ruling lethal injection unconstitutional allow for say, oh, electrocution? Isn’t the chair considerably, well, less humane than getting an injection?

Any ruling on the suffering of the victim would necessarily be specific to one single method. And as lethal injection is the norm for executions at the present time, this is the one which faces most legal challenges. A legal challenge about Ol Sparky would have to be completely separate. And my WAG is that it’s possible that if a state’s only method was ruled unconstitutional, death sentences would have to be commuted to custodial ones, and that it wouldn’t be possible to subsequently impose a method not available at the time of sentencing.

In some places the prisoner can choose. I know that used to be the case here in South Carolina, I am unsure if it still is.