WHEN LIFE GENERATES DEATH (LEGALLY)
|Survival time: 10 minutes
The electric chair was introduced in the USA in 1888, because they thought it was more humane than hanging, used previously. The proceeding to kill the condemned is as follows: after he has been tied to the chair, moistened copper electrodes are fixed to his head and to a leg (which have been previously shaven to ensure a good adhesion). Powerful electrical discharges, applied at short intervals, cause the death for cardiac arrest and respiratory paralysis: an electrician, by order of the executioner, introduces the current for two minutes and eighteen seconds, changing the voltage from 500 to 2000 volts (otherwise the sentenced would burn). The procedure causes ravaging visible effects: the prisoner sometimes jumps forward held back by strings, he urinates, defecates or vomits blood, internal organs are burnt, there is smell of burnt flesh.
Though the sentenced should be unconscious after the first discharge, sometimes this doesn't happen; often internal organs keep on working, so that further discharges are needed.
Here are two particular cases of prisoners submitted to the electric chair:
Willie Francis: black 17-year-old boy, condemned in 1946, survived to the first attempt to kill him. An eye witness said: "I saw the executioner switching on and the sentenced's lips swelling, his body tense and strained. I heard the electrician telling to his colleague to send in more juice [electricity] when I saw Willie Francis still alive, and the colleague said he couldn't send more electricity. Then Willie cried: 'Stop it, let me breathe!'. Then he said he had felt his head and his left leg burning, he had jumped against the strings and he had seen blue, pink and grey dots".
He was executed one year later, successfully.
John Louis Evans: executed on April 1983, he was stated officially dead - as the eye witnesses said - only after three discharges, each of them of 1900 volts, for an overall duration of more than fourteen minutes.