Georgia Court Ruling on Electric Chair "Unprecedented, " Says Professor

2 U.S. States Still Use It as Sole Means of Execution

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry

ATLANTA, Georgia, OCT. 8, 2001 ( The Georgia Supreme Court´s decision to rule that electrocution is unconstitutionally cruel and unusual punishment is «very significant because it is unprecedented,» says a law professor who´s written articles about methods of execution.

Deborah W. Denno, a Fordham University law professor, told the Los Angeles Times that a number of courts — including the Georgia high court and the U.S. Supreme Court — had ruled previously «that there was not enough evidence or no evidence to show that electrocution was cruel and unusual punishment.»

On Friday, the Georgia court became the first appellate court in the United States to make such a ruling. That leaves Alabama and Nebraska as the only states using the electric chair as their sole means of execution.

The Georgia court, in a 4-3 decision, said the electric chair´s «specter of excruciating pain and its certainty of cooked brains» constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. The electric chair was introduced in the United States in 1890.

Previously, legislatures in 23 of the 38 states that have capital punishment banned the electric chair.

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court was prepared to hear a challenge to Florida´s use of the electric chair, after some highly publicized botched executions. In a 1997 case, a crown of flames shot from the inmate´s head during the execution. Before the challenge could be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, Florida adopted injection for executions.

There are a number of appeals pending in Alabama in which condemned inmates are challenging the use of the electric chair.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry


Support ZENIT

If you liked this article, support ZENIT now with a donation