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How Different States Execute You: A Guide

There are a variety of ways that states kill prisoners on death row, including by firing squad. Injection is (by far!) the favorite method, but the old noose is still hanging on. Ha! Capital punishment pun!

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  • 1. Lethal injection

    This method involves injecting you with things that cause you to die. The typical procedure is three different drugs fed through an IV: Sodium thiopental to knock you out; Pancuronium to stop you from breathing; Potassium chloride to stop your heart from doing its beating. Then it's lights out!

  • This BY FAR the most popular way for a state to kill you. It is practiced in: Mississippi, Alabama, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Texas, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, Kentucky, Arkansas, Tennesse, Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Arizona, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and California.

  • Also! In Delaware, Illinois, and Missouri, they have a special machine that lets two technicians press a button to start the process of injections, but you can't tell which of the button presses actually started the process, so the technicians don't have to feel so bad. Don't feel bad, killer technicians! You are just doing your job.

  • 2. Electrocution

    This method is pretty-straightforward: Send electric current through your body so that your heart stops and your brain fries and you're all "GAAH GAAAH GAAAAAH" and junk.

  • These are the places that will kill you like this: Alabama, Virginia, Florida, South Carolina, Kentucky (optional if sentenced before March 31, 1998), Tennesse (optional if sentenced before March 31, 1998), Oklahoma (if injection is found unconstitutional), Illinois (if injection is found unconstitutional)

  • 3. Gas Chamber

    Yep, this still exists!

  • If a gassing state wants you dead, here's what they do: Strap you down in an airtight room, and introduce a mixture of potassium cyanide pellets and sulfuric acid into your air. Those two guys react, creating hydrogen cyanide. Uh-oh! You breath that in and you die! Also, you spasm, drool and shake while you die, it's pretty horrifying.

  • Where can you get killed like this, you ask? I'll tell you! Missouri, California, Maryland (optional if sentenced before March 25, 1994), Arizona (optional if sentenced before November, 1992), Wyoming (if injection is found unconstitutional)

  • 4. Hanging!

    This still happens, too! I don't really have to explain hanging to you, do I?

  • You have to be pretty lucky to get killed like this! In fact, you'll have to commit your capital crime in Washington or New Hampshire if you want to die like this (though New Hampshie will only do it if injection's "not possible").

  • 5. Firing Squad

    This is by far the most bad-ass way for a state to kill you. They're just basically saying, "Hey, we have to kill you, so we're going to pretend it's still the Wild West and this is a show down but you don't get a gun and there's a bunch of us, and we' going to put our bullets into your body at high velocity until you die. Sorry."

  • Only two states are awesome enough to shoot you to death. Those states are Oklahoma (if injection and electrocution are found unconstitutional) and Utah (if injection is found unconstitutional). Bang!