Don’t Reinstate the Electric Chair


Target: Robert J. Bentley, Governor of Alabama

Goal: Eliminate the need for the electric chair by executing fewer prisoners.

Alabama lawmakers recently voted to bring back the electric chair for those on death row if the Supreme Court limits certain drugs or if the currently low supply of lethal injection drugs runs out. The electric chair is a tortuous and archaic way to end someone’s life, and Governor Bentley should not sign it into law. Prisons should instead aim to execute fewer prisoners while the supply is low.

After the European Union banned the export of lethal substances in 2011, states were left scrambling to find other execution alternatives for those on death row. Since then, states have tried all sorts of things as substitutes, from using untested drugs in Oklahoma to voting back the firing squad in Utah. Tennessee already voted to use the electric chair in anticipation of lethal substances becoming unavailable.

Not only is the electric chair unimaginably painful, but it also has a high malfunction rate. Once thought of as cutting edge in the 19th century, the electric chair is now an incredibly outdated and inhumane way to end a prisoner’s life. With the argument for banning the death penalty aside, if we are going to execute criminals, the electric chair is not the way.

Instead of weighing other options, states like Alabama should be making efforts to shorten the list of executions. Not only is punishing murder with murder highly hypocritical, but inmates on death row often cost the government more than other prisoners–nearly $90,000 more. If a full prison is a reason to kill an inmate on death row, then fewer prisoners should serve for life or petty offenders should be released to make room.

There should be no need for backup plans in the event that lethal substances run out. Alabama needs to figure out how to lessen the demand for these drugs by putting fewer nonviolent criminals on death row and aiming for a lower execution rate. Demand that Alabama Governor Bentley not sign the bill allowing the inhumane and tortuous use of electric chair in prisons.


Dear Governor Bentley,

The Alabama House of Representatives recently passed a bill to bring back the electric chair for executions. Many states are discussing alternative methods to execution in case the increasingly low supply of lethal injection drugs runs out. The electric chair is an absolutely reprehensible way to end someone’s life. Rather than opting for inhumane methods, prisons should aim for other solutions, such as executing fewer prisoners.

As a medical doctor, I’m sure you understand the painful implications of electrocution. The electric chair has a high chance of malfunctions during an execution, making an already atrocious death even worse. It is an outdated and tortuous way to kill those inmates who sit on death row.

In the event that the supply of lethal injection drugs runs dry, prisons should instead aim to execute fewer of their prisoners. Stop putting nonviolent criminals on death row. If prison overcrowding is a reason to execute those on death row, then petty offenders should be released to make more room.

Please, Governor Bentley, we urge you not to sign this bill into law and instead encourage prisons to shorten their lists of death row inmates to lessen the demand of dwindling lethal drugs.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Liberapedia

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One Comment

  1. Henrik Enemark Henrik Enemark says:

    The EU has made it illegal to eksport chemicals for use in executions:

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