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MUSEUM

MEMORIAL

GAS CHAMBER

     Nevada was the first state to adopt the use of the Gas Chamber. But eventually eight other states followed. Possibly the most famous gas chamber was built in 1938 at San Quentin.

     The person to be executed is strapped to the chair. The room is air tight. Just below the seat is a pan of sulfuric acid. Held above the pan of acid are 16 one-ounce pellets of cyanide. As they are released the pellets form a deadly gas as the fumes rise and are inhaled by the person being executed.

     Persons who have witnessed the use of the gas chamber state that the natural instinct of the body is to resist the intake of the gas. However, the person may take up to 11 minutes to die. The thrashing of the person in the chair can get so violent that they rip open their arms and blood spurts over the area and into the windows of the observers. The face turns purple, the eyes bulge from the face, the person will begin to drool, and the tongue bloats and hangs out of the mouth.

     In the search for the most humane form of execution, gas chambers, while still in use, don't seem to fill that hope. A new method is injection or what death row inmates call the "Ultimate High." Oklahoma adopted this form in 1977 followed by other states such as Texas. The prisoner is tied to a stretcher and a tube attached to the arm into the blood stream. The ultra-fast barbiturate, in combination with another drug, puts the criminal to sleep and the heart stops similar to coronary arrest.