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William Kemmler - Did You Know . . .

electrocutions twentieth century executions

  • More problems occurred while conducting electrocutions through the years. As late as March 1997 flames actually spewed out from under the electrode helmet on a convict's head, lasting for ten seconds to the horror of witnesses.
  • The first woman executed in the electric chair was Martha Place on March 20, 1899, in New York's Sing Sing Prison for the murder of her stepdaughter. Twenty-three more women were executed in the electric chair through the twentieth century.
  • In 1977 executions by lethal injection (an injection of powerful drugs) began with Texas carrying out the first execution of this means. By the early 1980s more states switched to lethal injections, claiming it was more humane than electrocutions.
  • By the end of the twentieth century the number of electrocutions had dwindled but still persisted in some states. Three of ninety-eight executions in 1999 involved the electric chair as did five out of eighty-five executions in 2000. No electrocutions occurred in 2001 and only one in 2002.
  • In the early 2000s only Alabama and Nebraska had electrocution as their only means of execution.
  • New medical evidence in the late twentieth century indicated that death by electrocution was not as immediate and painless as thought in 1890.
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