One man\'s taking of another\'s life is generally seen as an unforgivable act which is
punishable with death. When this is done as punishment however, it is seen as an
honorary deed by removing this criminal from the world and making it a much safer
place to live. With executions in mind, it is incredible what ingenious methods can be
thought of by the human brain and the fact that the idea is centered around the murdering
of one man does not even change how prodigious these innovations are seen to be. Many
different techniques and procedures for execution are used throughout the world
revealing much about a country\'s culture and their concern for their citizens.
By far one of the most well known and publicly glamorized of all methods of
execution is electrocution. Present in nine American states, it was first used in New York
in 1890. When a condemned man is scheduled to be executed, he is led into the death
chamber and strapped to the point of immobility into a reinforced chair with belts
crossing his chest, groin, legs, and arms. Two copper electrodes, dipped in brine or
treated with Eletro-Creme to increase conductivity, are attached to him, one to his leg
and the other to his head. The first jolt, between five-hundred and two-thousand volts
depending on the size of the prisoner, is given for 30 seconds. Smoke will begin to come
out of the prisoner\'s leg and head and these areas may catch fire if the victim has been
sweating profusely. A doctor will examine him and if he still shows life signs, more jolts
of two-thousand volts are administered to finish the job (Matthews). A main reason for
electrocution\'s original use was the thought that death was immediate. Unfortunately this
is not the case. Doctors today believe that the victim feels "himself begin burned to death
and suffocating since the shock cause respiratory paralysis as well as cardiac arrest.
Because the energy of the shock paralyzes the muscles, he cannot cry out, and therefore
is presumed dead ("This is your death..."). How ironic that one reason electrocution was
kept in use was that, although expensive, it was immensely serene as far as the prisoner is
concerned.
Still used extensively throughout the world today and in its sole representing U.S.
state, Utah, the firing squad has a much greater claim to being humane as bullets directly
into the heart generally cause instantaneous death. Utah uses an extremely exact and
well-practiced method which is immensely centered around concern for the victim by
taking almost every precaution possible to ensure a quick and easy death. The victim is
bound to a chair with leather straps that cross his waist and head. Next a doctor locates
the exact position of his heart with a stethescope and pins a circular white target over it.
Twenty feet away, on the other side of a canvas wall, are five men with .30-caliber rifles.
Each man aims through a gun portal located in the center of the canvas and fire
simultaneously. A prisoner dies as a result of blood loss caused by rupture of the heart or
a large blood vessel, or tearing of the lungs. He loses consciousness when shock causes a
fall in the supply of blood to the brain. Though a shot to the head causes instant death
that method is not used due to high percentage of failures (Kaplan and Danil). Some
countries deliberately alter these steps in order to cause a more gruesome death. In
Taiwan, the condemned is shot either in the back or chest four times in strategically
painful places. After nearly and hour of misery the officials take the fifth and final shot
into the heart (Hoff and Petrucelli). It is astounding how one country will do all humanly
possible to try to make death a quick and easy procedure while another tries to do all they
can to make it as painful and agonizing as possible.
The gas chamber, most famous for its abundant use during World War II, is the
method used in Nevada and California and is also used in the Philippines. The prisoner is
led into a room and fastened to a metal chair with perforated seats. Straps are secured
across his upper and lower legs, arms, groin, and chest. A long stethoscope is also affixed
to his chest so that a doctor outside of the room can pronounce death. Underneath the
chair is a bowl filled with a sulfuric acid and distilled water solution, with a pound of
sodium cyanide pellets suspended in