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Author Topic: Inventor of the Electric Chair  (Read 43606 times)

Offline Andy28

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Re: Inventor of the Electric Chair
« Reply #50 on: 17/09/2006 13:12:38 »
I think it's the amperage that kills you not the voltage. Those electrical stun guns deliver 50,000 volts and all they do is incapacitate you.
 

Offline Andy28

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Re: Inventor of the Electric Chair
« Reply #51 on: 17/09/2006 13:21:17 »
quote:
Originally posted by another_someone

quote:
Originally posted by Andy28

Have you listened to the georgia execution tapes? It is a collection of recordings of the condemed inmates' executions. Phase one (as they call it) is over in around 4 seconds and they report that the body is limp once it is completed. The whole 3 phases (2000 volts, 700 volts and 170 volts) takes no more than 2 minuites. I am sure unconciousness results in seconds.



I cannot say I have listened to the tapes, but it does not alter what I had said earlier, that unless you are capable of reviving the person, there is no way of knowing what level of conciousness they have.  The only thing you can say is that they are unresponsive to stimuli – but that does not necessitate that they be unconscious.

I did not question at any time that paralysis is almost immediate, but what you have not shown is anything pertaining to conciousness.

One other thing to bear in mind that the real tissue damage occurs not from the voltage but from the current (voltages much higher than 2,000 volts can be obtained from a Van De Graff generator, and although they can provide an unpleasant shock, they would not normally kill you because they are unable to deliver much current).

I cannot vouch for the correctness of the following site, but I am not sure where one can find authoritative information on the matter:

http://www.richard.clark32.btinternet.co.uk/chair.html
quote:

After being led into the execution chamber, the prisoner is strapped into the chair with leather belts across the chest, thighs, legs, and arms. Two copper electrodes are then attached - one to the leg, a patch of which will have been shaved bare to improve conductivity, and the other contained within a helmet to the shaved head. The electrodes are either soaked in brine or treated with gel (Electro-Creme) to increase conductivity and reduce burning.
A leather face mask or black face cloth is applied. The prisoner 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 30 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 out of the prisoner's leg and head. A doctor then examines the prisoner, who if not dead, is given a further shock (In some states, this is done automatically by the control gear)
A third and fourth are given if necessary. (It took 5 jolts to kill Ethel Rosenberg)
On average, the process takes 2 minutes,10 seconds and two shocks are given.
The first shock runs for up to one minute and normally destroys the brain and central nervous system. It also causes complete paralysis due to every muscle in the body contracting and staying contracted whilst the current is flowing. This makes heartbeat and respiration impossible. The second shock continues the process to ensure the heartbeat does not resume. The prisoner is supposed to be rendered unconscious in 1/240th of a second.
After electrocution, the body temperature rises to about 138oF and is initially too hot to touch. Heating destroys the body's proteins and "bakes" the organs.
Physical reactions include heaving chest, gurgles, foaming at the mouth, bloody sweat, burning of the hair and skin, and release of faeces.
The body has to be allowed to cool before an autopsy can be performed.
According to Robert H. Kirschner, the deputy chief medical examiner of Cook County, Illinois, "The brain appears cooked in most cases."
According to Judge Brennan, the prisoner's eyeballs sometimes pop out and rest on his cheeks. The prisoner often defecates, urinates, vomits blood and drool. The body turns bright red as its temperature rises, and the prisoner's flesh swells and his skin stretches to the point of breaking. Sometimes the prisoner catches on fire, particularly if he perspires excessively. Witnesses hear a loud and sustained sound like bacon frying, and the sickly sweet smell of burning flesh permeates the chamber.
There is some debate about what the electrocuted prisoner experiences before he dies, many doctors believe that he feels himself being burned to death and suffocating, since the shock causes respiratory paralysis as well as cardiac arrest. According to Harold Hillman, "It must feel very similar to the medieval trial by ordeal of being dropped in boiling oil." Because the energy of the shock paralyses the prisoner's muscles, he cannot cry out. "My mouth tasted like cold peanut butter. I felt a burning in my head and my left leg, and I jumped against the straps," Willie Francis, a 17-year-old who survived an attempted execution in 1946, is reported to have said. Francis was successfully executed a year later.



You will note that the 2 minutes for death to occur is only an average, not an upper limit.  In any case, it is not clear what is meant by death, but I suspect it is probably defined (as historically it probably would have been) as the cessation of heart activity, and takes no account of the fact that brain death may not be simultaneous with heart death.



George




That big head electrode is right next to the brain. The electricity passes through the brain before anything else and it almost certainly renders you unconcious before you know that the executioner has thrown the switch. However, there have been a number of botched executions (Lee 'Tiny' Davis, Florida 1999) where the inmate has remained concious and has suffered. Prisoners who are heavier need more voltage to kill them.
 

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Re: Inventor of the Electric Chair
« Reply #51 on: 17/09/2006 13:21:17 »

 

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