Forty-eight down and two to go. In early October, the Georgia State Supreme Court ended the state’s use of the electric chair, joining forty-seven other states which also do not use the chair as their sole method of execution. In case you are wondering, Alabama and Nebraska are the two states that are a little behind the times.
This was not an easy decision for the Court, as the four to three decision indicates; however, the electric chair has come under fire (pun intended) recently, and the State Supreme Court made it official. Before Georgia, Florida had been the most recent state to switch from the chair to lethal injection. The state of Florida was motivated by several executions that had turned ugly, including two which had flames shooting from the heads of the executees.
There have also been cases in which the first jolt was not sufficient to end the life of the individual, and a second jolt was needed. The Georgia State Supreme Court decided that the electric chair “inflicts purposeless physical violence and needless mutilation that makes no measurable contribution to accepted goals of punishment.” That’s a fancy way of saying that the chair is a mess and is well past its day. The state of Georgia will now be using lethal injection as its sole means of putting people to death.
The attorney general of the state of Georgia has indicated it is not likely he will appeal, as he does not think he would win. He also indicated that the State is fully prepared to follow the Court’s order.
The United States Supreme Court has not yet chosen to involve itself in this issue. Last year, the Court decided not to hear an appeal out of the State of Alabama which challenged the electric chair. The vote to turn away the appeal was five to four, and the closeness of the vote made it unclear as to whether or not the Supreme Court did not want to take this particular case and indicated that perhaps it would find another case with which to opine on the legitimacy of electrocutions.
Forty-eight down and two to go. It is my fervent hope that Alabama and Nebraska will see the light so that for as long a period of time as the death penalty remains the law in this country, it is carried out in an appropriate fashion.