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    Johnson, David T. 2013. The Jolly Hangman, the Jailed Journalist, and the Decline of Singapore’s Death Penalty. Asian Journal of Criminology, Vol. 8, Issue. 1, p. 41.

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  • Print publication year: 2004
  • Online publication date: September 2009

6 - On botched executions

Summary

Introduction

On 21 February 1930, convicted murderer Eva Dugan, 52, was hanged from the gallows of the Arizona State Prison in Florence, Arizona. Witnesses were repulsed when Dugan sprang through the trap door on the gallows with such force that her head snapped off and rolled into a corner of the room. Public outcry over the botched execution was so loud that within four years the Arizona legislature abolished hanging and replaced it with a more ‘humane’ way of killing: the gas chamber.

Six decades later, the public and policy makers admitted that death by asphyxiation had its own problems. In April 1992, the Arizona gas chamber was mothballed after a horrifying spectacle during the gassing of death row inmate Donald Eugene Harding. Witnesses were sickened by the execution, calling it ‘violent’ and ‘ugly’, and reported that Harding was in great pain before his death mercifully came. Consequently, Harding's was the last mandated asphyxiation in Arizona. In November 1992, Arizona voters passed a ballot initiative that gave prisoners then on its death row a choice between gas and lethal injection and authorised lethal injection as the only means of execution for those sentenced to death thereafter.

One might think that in the United States, where technology exists to send astronauts to the moon with perfection, we should be able to shoot people to the hereafter with similar precision.

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Capital Punishment
  • Online ISBN: 9780511489273
  • Book DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511489273
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