Some favorate photos from the Gallery and elsewhere

The New Mexico Electric Chair

The New Mexico Electric Chair

First up, the New Mexico Electric Chair – used seven times.

New Mexico has the distinction of being one of three states to have used both an electric chair and a gas chamber to conduct executions.  This could be enough to make this a favorite, but I also like the leg cuffs.

On the other hand, this picture is kind of fuzzy, which makes it hard to tell of the seat is just painted black, or if it is covered in something.

Texas Electric Chair

Texas Electric Chair

Next up is this, not great picture of the Texas Electric Chair – used 361 times.

The Texas chair will hold a special place for me, as it is the only one I’ve seen in person.

In 1999, I was in Texas for an extended training trip.  During one of my days off, I drove from north of Dallas down to Huntsville and visited the prison museum – located at that time in a downtown storefront a block or two from the Walls Unit.

I hadn’t brought a camera with me – I don’t remember if I left it home, or if I just hadn’t brought it with me that day – so I picked up a disposable camera and attempted to take some pictures.  The automatic flash and glass meant that they didn’t come out great.

Of the ones I have – including one from another source of it in the new museum – I selected this one because it shows more clearly than many the reality of the head mask.  As you can see, it was a wide leather belt designed to cover the eyes and mouth, leaving the nose exposed.  It is also apparent that it was used to hold the condemned inmate’s head against the two hard-looking knobs that made up the head rest.

Electric Chair Execution

Possibly Authentic Electric Chair Execution

Next up is the best version I’ve been able to find of a picture that was in one of the books in my college library, showing a person strapped into an electric chair closing on their execution.

The picture I remember was at least at a higher resolution and showed the inmate strapped, including a mask like Texas used.

One thing to note about this picture – which was more clear in the one in the book – the inmate being executed is of African descent.

One of the sad parts of the history of the death penalty in America is how it was racially unbalanced for much of the 20th century.  Many will argue that it still is, but I’ve not heard if they’ve adjusted for economic factors, including access to education and mental health treatment, nor do they compare it to the general rate of murder convictions.

 

New Mexico Gas Chamber

New Mexico Gas Chamber

Moving on to gas chambers, again first up is New Mexico – used 1 time.

This picture is quite “artsy” and doesn’t have a whole lot of close detail.  The only significant feature is the exhaust pipe – often unseen in closer up pictures.

Maryland Gas Chamber

Maryland Gas Chamber – from viewing gallery

Next, the Maryland gas chamber – used 3 times – as seen from the witness’s viewing area.

This is the only good picture I have from this angle.  I have one from California, but it clearly has the lethal injection table in the chamber.

From this angle, it is fairly easy to imagine standing there watching someone die for their crimes.

Maryland Gas Chamber

Maryland Gas Chamber from chamber entrance

This is the same gas chamber from the front. This is the view that the condemned inmate would have moments before being strapped into that chair.  You can see the grating where the gas will rise into the chamber to the left (viewer’s right) of the chair, and something that is probably a stethoscope allowing a doctor to hear when the inmate finally dies.

Mississippi Gas Chamber

Inside the Mississippi Gas Chamber

The Mississippi gas chamber – used 35 times.

I like this picture due to the chair – which may or may not be a re-purposed electric chair.  This is one of the few that shows that some inmates had their head strapped in place when in the gas chamber.

Like New Mexico, Mississippi is one of the three states that used both the electric chair and the gas chamber in executions.

North Carolina Gas Chamber

North Carolina Gas Chamber

The third state in that group is North Carolina. It has a unique gas chamber – used 196 times. All other gas chambers, except for the original gas chamber used in Nevada, are purpose-built metal capsules. North Carolina instead built a room.  Inside this room they clearly reused the electric chair.

I wonder if they ever had issues with the fact that this kind of construction is much harder to seal.

Colorado Gas Chamber

Colorado Gas Chamber – Occupied

The last gas chamber on our tour comes from Colorado, and was used 32 times.

I’m not convinced that this picture actually comes from an execution.  It probably comes from a demonstration for the media.  However, it does show the person filling in for a condemned inmate is not wearing a shirt.  There are reports that in at least some of the post-Furman executions in gas chambers had the inmate dressed in little more than boxer shorts.

California Injection Table

California Injection Table

My first lethal injection table comes from California. I don’t know if this table has been used, and know it wasn’t used in this location. But, California has used lethal injection 11 times.

I like this picture because it shows the strap arrangement – a five or seven point harness supplemented with straps across the legs and waist.  California doesn’t use straps on the arms, choosing instead to tape the condemned inmate’s hands palm up to the side boards.

Texas Lethal Injection Table

Texas Lethal Injection Table

Texas has executed more people by lethal injection – 511 as of the date of this post, with one scheduled in the next couple of days – than any other state.  That alone makes this table worth having a picture of.  This is also one of the first lethal injection tables I’ve tried to use to figure out how it would feel to be strapped down.

Arizona Lethal Injection Table

Arizona Lethal Injection Table

I remain fascinated with the variety of ways that straps are arranged for lethal injection.  The table in Arizona – used 26 times – has a bar in the middle that allows for separate leg straps.  It also appears to feature a harness that is held down by another harness that would run under the inmate’s shoulders.  (There is another picture of this table in the gallery that may provide a better view of the straps.

Execution by Lethal Injection in Guatemala

Execution by Lethal Injection in Guatemala

Guatemala has at least twice shown executions by lethal injection on TV. While the videos of these executions continue to allude my attempts to locate, there are a couple of good pictures.  The picture on the left is clearly after the execution is complete – as the EKG shows a flat-line.

Washington Gallows

Washington Gallows

My first gallows picture is of the gallows in Washington.  This shows the simple arrangement needed for a hanging – just a heavy duty eye-bold in the ceiling and a trap that falls into the space below.

 

 

British Style Noose

British Style Noose – From Crumlin Road Prison (Courtesy of the Capital Punishment UK Facebook Page)

My next picture shows a British style noose.  This picture is from a set of photos shared on Facebook on the “Capital Punishment UK” page.

This is close to what would have been the last thing you would have seen before being hung in Britain in for much of the twentieth century, and probably what you’d see before being hung in Malyasia and Singapore – unless they hood their condemned inmates before escorting them from their cells (as depicted in Dadah is Death.

British Hanging

Depiction of a condemned inmate in Britain moments before hanging

The next picture – used as the cover for the Capital Punishment UK Facebook page – shows a person ready for hanging in Britain.  This is a modern picture, not a real execution.  But it does a good job of showing the simple pinioning of the condemned inmate’s arms and the placement of the noose.  It also provides some scale for the size of the noose, and the brass eyelet that the running line passes through.

Kuwait Execution

Post-Execution in Kuwait

This is an authentic picture after an execution in Kuwait. This picture shows both the compression of the neck and the way that Kuwait straps the arms on their condemned inmates.  If you refer to the previous picture, you’ll see that before the execution, the rubber washer is against the eye.  The noose is not placed loosely around the neck either.  The executioner should take out most of the slack, and use the rubber washer to keep it from working loose.  So, this shows how much the noose has shrunk.  This picture also does a decent job of showing the head position of a properly hung criminal.

Post Execution in Kuwait

Post Execution in Kuwait

This last picture shows another execution in Kuwait.  I’ve included it because one of the things that intrigues me about execution is how the body responds.  For a long time, I thought that urination, and even deification, was pretty much universal in executions.  However, this picture is one of the few that clearly shows evidence of urination during a hanging.

We don’t know when the condemned inmate wet his pants, so it could have been anywhere along the execution process.  I’m sure that Kuwait wouldn’t delay an execution just to let the inmate have a change of clothing.  But it could also have happened during the execution itself.

One Response to Some favorate photos from the Gallery and elsewhere

  • al says:

    North Carolina had two gas chambers, the original, used from 1936 to 1979 and the successor, installed when Central Prison went through a major renovation at that time. That is the second chamber in your photograph, two executions via gas occurred in there.

    Mississippi used a steel chair specifically for gas executions. The electric chair which preceded it sits in the lobby of the State Law Enforcement training facility. The head restraint was not added until after the 1983 execution of Jimmy Gray, where the inmate banged his unrestrained head against the pole situated behind the chair.