History of Electrocution

The idea of electrocution as a form of capital punishment was first introduced in American n 1890 in New York. William Kemmler was the first to be executed by electrocution in 18901. From that time until 1966, 4,308 people were electrocuted in 27 states. Since capital punishment was reinstated after Furman, 151 men and 2 women have been electrocuted in the U.S.A2. Due to these executions, electrocution is now the second most common method of capital punishment, just after lethal injection. However inhumane it may seem, it is still a legal method in seven states – Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Nebraska, Tennessee and Virginia. The only state that provides electrocution as a mandatory punishment is Nebraska, and it is very doubtful as to whether it will ever be used there.


 After being led into the execution chamber, the prisoner is strapped into the chair with leather belts across the chest, thighs, legs, and arms. The electrodes are then attached – one or two to the leg, where a patch will have been shaved bare to improve conductivity, and the other contained within a helmet, to the shaved head. All this is attached with a 1/4″ x 20 Machine brass screw to the turret electrode on the top.2

A leather face mask or black face cloth is applied. The prisoner, whether male or female, will also be wearing a diaper.

The executioner presses a button on the control panel to deliver a first shock of between 1,700 and 2,400 volts, which lasts for between thirty seconds and a minute. This is automatically timed and controlled. The current must be under 6 amps to ensure the body does not cook. Smoke usually comes from the prisoner’s leg and head where the electrodes are in contact with the skin. A doctor then examines the prisoner, who if not dead, is given a further shock.

A third and fourth are given if necessary.

On average the process takes 2 minutes 10 seconds and two shocks are given.


1)       http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/descriptions-execution-methods

2)       http://www.geocities.com/trctl11/chair.html