Texas was the first state to execute prisoners in what many saw as a move toward the most humane method: lethal injection. Beginning in 1923, Texas used an electric chair. The electric chair came under criticism in the U.S. after some botched executions led to horrific results, including inmate's heads bursting into flames.

The first person to ever be executed in an electric chair was William Kemmler, a man convicted of killing his girlfriend with a hatchet. The execution took place in New York. This is Ohio's electric chair, which is still operational.

Death Chamber at Southern Ohio Correctional Facility
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On December 2, 1982, Texas used lethal injection as an execution method for the first time in U.S. history, putting to death Charles Brooks, Jr. Brooks had been convicted of murdering a man to steal a car. Since Brooks, another 1,391 people have met the needle.

However, lethal injection is rapidly becoming an unviable method due to several factors, including pharmaceutical companies' unwillingness to supply the drugs needed: sodium thiopental, pancuronium bromide, and potassium chloride. The combination renders the inmate unconscious, causes their muscles to contract in a way that suffocates them and stops their heart.

Texas death chamber in Huntsville
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Lately, Texas has been using pentobarbital only, a drug used medically as a pre-anesthetic for operations. There is the controversy that Texas correction's stores of that drug are many days past its effective date.

Alabama has experienced this same issue and recently executed a man with a new, novel method: nitrogen gas. Kenneth Eugene Smith made history on January 25, 2024, as the first man to be executed this way. Smith had been convicted of a murder-for-hire, having stabbed his victim multiple times for a measly $1000. Previous attempts to give him lethal injection had failed, as the people administering the drug were unable to find a suitable vein.

Was it more humane? According to the AP:

Smith appeared to remain conscious for several minutes. For at least two minutes, he appeared to shake and writhe on the gurney, sometimes pulling against the restraints. That was followed by several minutes of heavy breathing, until breathing was no longer perceptible.

I'll let you decide if that sounds humane or not. 

Will Texas, a state that never had a gas chamber, move to this method? It seems like it may soon become the only option unless a new method comes along.

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