Capital Chamber Gas Punishment  

The electrocution method was considered quite gruesome by the lawmakers in the state of Nevada and so a less violent form of execution was proposed in 1921. Capital punishment was redefined with a new method, the gas chamber. Dr. Allen Mclean Hamilton, a toxicologist, was the first proponent of gassing. He suggested it as a more humane method of execution.

The gas chamber execution method was quickly adopted in 1921 and remained popular for over 50 years. Nevada was the first state to use this method for executing criminals. Chinese born Gee Jong was the first person to get executed in Nevada’s new gas chamber. He was executed for murdering Tom Qoung Kee, a member of a rival gang.   There was a long battle fought by Jong’s lawyers. They were against gassing as it was “cruel and unusual punishment” (a cruel and unusual punishment was termed illegal under the Eighth Amendment to the American Constitution).

The results of the gassing were extremely painful and slow. The most infamous case was of Jimmy Lee Gray in 1983. It took ten long minutes for Jimmy to die. He slammed his head into a steel pole behind the chair and was reported to have gasped 11 times during this period. The execution of Donald Eugene Harding in 1992 was “extremely violent” according to a reporter of the Tucson Citizen.

On February 21, 1996, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the decision that gassing method of execution was a cruel and unusual punishment and violated the 8th Amendment to the Constitution.

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