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January 19, 2007

Since lethal injection isn't working out...

how about hanging?  Thanks to ODPI, I see that Dean Reynolds has this lengthy article on hanging over at the ABC News website.  The long piece is entitled "Sentenced to Hang: Executions by Hanging Still Happen in the U.S. — But is it 'Humane'?" and it almost reads like a how-to guide.  Here's one abridged portion of the article:

[H]anging is the oldest and still most widely used method of execution in the world today, according to a British study on executions.  The research goes on to say that at the very least, 315 men and 4 women were hanged in 10 countries during 2006, many in public.

There has not been a hanging execution in the United States since 1996, and only three overall since 1976 when the Supreme Court re-instated the death penalty.

From trees, to gallows, to stages with trap-doors, hanging continues to be an attempt at a highly visible deterrent.... Again, referring to the British study, there are four main forms of hanging:

  1. Short or no-drop hanging, in which the condemned drops just a few inches and in struggling against the noose, strangles himself....
  2. Suspension hanging, in which the condemned is slowly raised by the neck and asphyxiated....
  3. Standard drop-hanging, in which the prisoner drops a distance of four to six feet. It may or may not break the neck, so asphyxiation is also a possibility with this method....
  4. Measured or long-drop hanging, in which the person's height, weight and physique are calculated to ensure a quickly broken neck and subsequent death.

January 19, 2007 at 03:50 PM | Permalink


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I think it's important to note that even if a hanging breaks the neck (ensuring that there won't be any subsequent movement), the victim is still alive (and trying unsuccessfully to breath, even though he is paralyzed). Death is not instantaneous. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanging or http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=25212

Posted by: Will | Jan 19, 2007 9:48:50 PM

Most methods of executions used in the United States are relatively humane, save perhaps lethal injection, BUT ONLY WHEN IMPLEMENTED CORRECTLY. Hanging can decapitate &/or cause lingering suffocation. The electric chair can cause the person to catch ablaze, ala Jesse Tafero. The firing squad is known for its misses of a vital organ and people slowly bleeding out. Lethal gas -- as currently practiced -- is known for its grotesqueness as the person slowly suffocates. The only quick and sure relatively painless death is a shotgun blast to the back of the head of the condemned, although that method is unlikely to ever be adopted as it leaves the witnesses to the execution squimish.

Which gets us back to lethal injection, which is easiest those watching the execution but prone to botch & even when not botched may result in a lingering painful death.

Posted by: karl | Jan 20, 2007 4:56:40 PM

I have to say, once you've decided your going to KILL somebody, I've never understood the pious debate over the relative cruelty (or heaven forbid, "humaneness") of differing execution methods.

To me, if you're going to have capital punishment, the shotgun blast idea is fine, hanging, sure, lethal injection, go for it. Drop them out of a plane with no parachute for all I care. Dead is dead.

Killing people is okay or it isn't. (Me and the author of the Ten Commandments happen to think it's not.) Debating the relative merits of HOW you do it has always struck me as pedantry - bottom line, there's nothing "humane" about killing a defenseless person, no matter what your methodology.

BTW, there was a short article in the Dallas News recently about public hangings in Texas, which in the past drew crowds of up to 10,000 people in the days before automobiles! See:



Posted by: Gritsforbreakfast | Jan 21, 2007 8:28:46 AM

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