ADVANTAGES

Electrocution, thought to cause a swifter, more acceptable death, was used in 74 of the first 100 executions after . But officials found that the electrical flow frequently arced, cooking flesh and sometimes igniting prisoners — postmortem examinations frequently had to be delayed for the bodies to cool — and yet some prisoners still required repeated jolts before they died. In Alabama, in 1979, for example, John Louis Evans III was still alive after two cycles of 2600 V; the warden called Governor George Wallace, who told him to keep going, and only after a third cycle, with witnesses screaming in the gallery, and almost 20 minutes of suffering did Evans finally die. Only Florida, Virginia, and Alabama persisted with electrocutions with any frequency, and under threat of Supreme Court review, they too abandoned the method.

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