Tag Archives: electric chair

The Latest Death Penalty Headlines

Editor’s Note: Some readers may have noticed this blog hasn’t been updated in almost a year. Due to a variety of factors, not least of which was a simple lack of time, I took a hiatus from posting here. I’m now trying to make more time in my schedule for this project, so with any luck regular postings will be returning. Thanks for your patience and understanding.

The Tennessee Senate Has Backed a Bill to Reinstate the Electric Chair

Tennessee Senators overwhelming voted on Wednesday to reinstate the electric chair to execute capital inmates in the event that the state is unable to procure the necessary chemicals to perform lethal injections.

In a 23-3 vote, the Senate approved the Capital Punishment Enforcement Act, tabled by Sen. Ken Yager, which would provide the state’s Department of Corrections with the legal backing to kill inmates with the electric chair as an alternative, according to The Tennessean.

A similar piece of legislation has reportedly been tabled in Tennessee’s House of Representatives.

Related: The First Photograph of an Execution by Electric Chair

Now He Tells Us: John Paul Stevens Wants to Abolish the Death Penalty:

A man who consistently upheld capital convictions and the death penalty itself for over 35 years, who helped send hundreds of men and women to their deaths by failing to hold state officials accountable for constitutional violations during capital trials, who more recently endorsed dubious lethal injection standards because he did not want to buck up against court precedent, now wants the Eighth Amendment to read this way, with five new words added:

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments such as the death penalty inflicted.


Indiana Woman Starts Petition to get the American Pharmacist Association to Alter Code of Ethics to Ban Participation in Executions: 

“The Association could help put a stop to the manufacturing and supplying of drugs used for lethal injections,” Kauffman’s petition, which garnered more than 36,000 signatures, explains, “and help end the use of the death penalty in the U.S. once and for all.”

“I was reading an article last July about an execution that was postponed in Georgia because the Department of Corrections wouldn’t give any information to the lawyers or the judges about what execution drugs were going to be used and where they had gotten them from. The article mentioned that pharmacists, unlike other medical professionals, are not banned from participating in executions. And I remember thinking — wow, that’s surprising,” Kauffman recounted in an interview with ThinkProgress. “I happen to be opposed to the death penalty. But I’m especially opposed to the medicalization of the death penalty.”

Report Recommends 56 Changes to Ohio Death Penalty, Would Restrict Use of Law: 

Ohio should restrict the use of capital punishment charges and create a state panel to approve them, according to two of the 56 recommendations in the final report by a committee that spent more than two years studying changes to the law.

The committee proposes eliminating cases where an aggravated murder was committed during a burglary, robbery or rape, requiring solid proof of a defendant’s guilt such as DNA evidence, and banning the execution of the mentally ill, according to a draft copy of the report obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press.


New York Times Debate: What It Means if the Death Penalty Is Dying:

Last week, lawmakers in New Hampshire heard testimony on a bill outlawing the death penalty. If passed, the law would make New Hampshire the 19th state to abolish capital punishment. The United States, the only country in the Americas to practice the death penalty last year, executed 39 people, four fewer than the year before, and Texas accounted for 41 percent of them, according to Amnesty International.

As executions become concentrated in fewer and fewer states and racial disparities continue, does the application of capital punishment make it unconstitutionally cruel and unusual?


Man on Texas Death Row Testifies in Court to Hurry His Execution:

A Corpus Christi man on death row for fatally shooting a five-year old boy nearly 22 years ago is one step away from getting a solid execution date.

Larry Hatten, 38, testified Thursday in the 347th District Court about his own competency before Judge Missy Medary. He was brought back from death row to testify after he sent his attorney a letter saying he did not want anymore appeals.

On Thursday, Hatten told the judge that he just didn’t want to waste anymore time.

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Tonight’s Execution: Robert Gleason, Virginia

This is a developing story. Check back for updates. For up-to-the-minute updates, follow Punishable by Death on Twitter.

Update: Robert Gleason has been executed.

This undated file photo provided by the Virginia Department of Corrections shows the electric chair that was used in the execution of death row inmate Brandon Wayne Hedrick on July 20, 2006, at the Greensville Correctional Center in Jarratt, Va. (AP Photo/Virginia Department of Corrections, File)

This undated file photo provided by the Virginia Department of Corrections shows the electric chair that was used in the execution of death row inmate Brandon Wayne Hedrick on July 20, 2006, at the Greensville Correctional Center in Jarratt, Va. (AP Photo/Virginia Department of Corrections, File)

The first execution of 2013 was unique in several ways. Robert Gleason, 42, scheduled for execution tonight at 9 p.m. at Greensville Correctional Center in Jarratt, Va., not only volunteered for execution, but asked to die by electrocution. He was the first inmate to choose the electric chair over lethal injection since 2010.

For years Gleason had been pushing for his own death, saying he needed to be stopped and execution was the only way to do it. According to the Bristol Herald Courier, “such a request is seen only among 10 percent of the nation’s death row population, according to statistics generated by the Death Penalty Information Center.”

Gleason was originally serving a life sentence for the shooting death of Mike Jamerson. According to The Associated Press, “despite there being little evidence against him, Gleason admitted to shooting Jamerson, whose son was cooperating in a federal investigation into a methamphetamine ring that Gleason was involved in.” While incarcerated at Wallens Ridge State Prison, Gleason became frustrated that officials wouldn’t move his cellmate, Harvey Watson, who was mentally disturbed, after Gleason complained about constant singing, yelling and other irritating behavior. In 2009 Gleason hogtied, beat and strangled the 63-year-old Watson, and asked for the death penalty.

“I murdered that man cold-bloodedly,” Gleason told the AP in 2010. “I planned it and I’m gonna do it again. Someone needs to stop it. The only way to stop me is to put me on death row.”

After Watson’s murder, Gleason was moved to the state’s only supermax prison, where inmates are isolated 23 hours a day. Frustrated that the system wasn’t moving quickly enough, he strangled 26-year-old Aaron Cooper, through the wire fence of an adjoining  recreation cage in July 2010. He then warned that he would continue to kill if he wasn’t given the death penalty.

In September of 2012, he received two death sentences. Since the trial, he has pushed to advance his execution, waiving his appeals since conviction and fighting his attorneys, who are trying to file last-minute appeals to save his life.

“If these guys are going to go on playing these games and prolong things, I’m not going to be a good little [expletive] boy,” he told the Bristol Herald Courier in a telephone interview.

His lawyers claim that he is mentally ill, and has suffered from paranoia, delusional thinking, anxiety and other afflictions. Their court filings describe his life as “profoundly disturbed and traumatic,” following years of child abuse, depression and other mental health issues.

However, Gov. Bob McDonnell has already decided against blocking the execution, saying Gleason showed no remorse for the crimes. The U.S. Supreme Court also turned down an unwanted stay approximately an hour before the execution was scheduled to begin.

Gleason was strapped into the state’s electric chair at 9 p.m. The Bristol Herald Courier has a detailed description of the process:

He is scheduled to be strapped into a 104-year-old chair made of reddish, brown oak and fitted with brass fixtures and large, black leather straps. The chair is housed on the other side of the state in a prison in Jarratt, Va.

At 9 p.m., corrections officers will strap a metal skull cap onto his shaved head and a leather mask over much of his face.

It will happen in a small, cinderblock room with a two-way window separating him, the warden and guards from a handful of state civilian witnesses and news reporters. One corrections officer will hold a telephone that has an open line to the governor’s office, just in case there is a last-minute pardon.

Barring any last-minute legal miracles, more than 1,000 volts of electricity will race down an electrical contact strapped to a shaved part of his right leg. The lethal jolts will flow for a pair of 90-second cycles, with a slight pause between them. Five long minutes after the second jolt, a physician will hold a stethoscope to Gleason’s chest and check for signs of life.

Gleason spent his final hours without any visitors, according to local reporter Michael Owens.

As Gleason wanted, no final stays came through, and the execution proceeded on time at 9 p.m. According to a report by Owens on Tricities.com, “Robert C. Gleason Jr. died with fists partially clinched and smoke rising from his body.”

Gleason’s last words were, “Well, I hope Percy ain’t going to wet the sponge. Put me on the highway to Jackson and call my Irish buddies. Pog mo thoin. God bless.” Pog mo thoin is Gaelic for “kiss my ass.”

Gleason told the Herald Courier he asked for the chair because he fears lethal injection is incredibly painful, but inmates haven’t been able to convey that because the lethal injection drugs leave them paralyzed and unable to speak during the process.

“I’ve been reading up on this since this all started,” he once told the Herald Courier. “I think electrocution’s quicker.”

Another reason for his choice, according to the AP: He doesn’t want to go out lying down.

“I can’t do that,” he said. “I’d rather be sitting up.”

Virginia had no executions and no death sentences in 2012.

Related Reading: 

Gleason Will Die Wednesday Night in Virginia’s Electric Chair

Gleason Set to Die Wednesday by Electrocution

Robert Gleason, Inmate Who Asked To Die, Will Be Executed

Robert Gleason Jr., Virginia Inmate Who Asked For Death Penalty, Due to be Executed

‘I’m Gonna Do It Again’

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