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The electric chair: an injustice, or a necessity?

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Katie Costaras The Electric Chair The electric chair: an injustice, or a necessity? The electric chair pours around 2000 volts through the skull and an electrode wired to the lower right leg. If you're lucky, you won't feel a thing, if you're unlucky, you will slowly burn alive, leaving your body charred and mutated. Is this really a painless death? Is this really a humane way to kill someone? Or simply a way of prolonging the death of the criminal, and making them pay for the crime that they have committed? After all, the purpose of the electric chair was to kill instantly, free of suffering, yet in some cases, it has failed to fulfil the criteria for which it was invented for. The electric chair can be far from painless. During the 1990s, several executions that took place caused the bodies of the criminals to smoke, set on fire, and bleed. How therefore, can the electric chair be seen as a civilized means to end someone's life? ...read more.


Edison favoured direct current, while Westinghouse favoured alternating current. Edison, in an attempt to destroy Westinghouse, toured the country electrocuting small animals using alternating current, to exhibit the supposed dangers of Westinghouse's method. The demonstrations inspired criminal justice officials, and in 1886, the New York State Government set up a legislative commission to study humane forms of capital punishment, including death by electrocution. 300 methods were considered, most of them far worse than the electric chair. These alternative methods included hanging, exposure to wild serpents, bisection, garrotting, crushing with weights, suffocation and beheading. If the electric chair had not been chosen as the new form of execution, then perhaps a far worse form of execution would have been in use today. Nevertheless, it is necessary to stop the use of the electric chair, due to the numerous malfunctions that occur, the bodily mutation and extreme pain. It is simply unconstitutional in the society in which we live in today. On June 4th, 1888, the New York Legislature enacted a law, making electrocution the state's new method of execution. ...read more.


An added problem with the electric chair is the effect it has on the staff that must carry out the procedures. Reginald Wilkinson, director of the state prison system, said that, " The probability of something going wrong and inducing more stress on staff is more likely with electrocutions." The staff that must carry out the electrocutions, could become psychologically damaged by implementing the procedures, and by the horrific scenes that they would see. At present, the lethal injection has replaced the electric chair in many parts of America. This probably has less damaging effects on the staff, but whether this form of execution is painless is debatable. Americans spend so much money on finding various ways to ease the last moments of criminals on death row, without questioning whether these killings might be just another form of murder, comparable to the crimes of those put to death. The fact that the electric chair is only in use in two states in America, does show that the electric chair is slowly being faded out as a form of capital punishment, however, only until it has been completely rid from society, will the inhumane executions no longer occur. ...read more.

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