Adieu to Electrocution

By Deborah W. Denno / Ohio Northern University Law Review, on 1 January 2000

Much has been written about why electrocution has persisted so stubbornly over the course of the twentieth century. This Article focuses briefly on more recent developments concerning why electrocution should be abolished entirely. Part I of this Article describes the facts and circumstances surrounding Bryan as well as Bryan’s unusual world-wide notice due to the gruesome photos of the executed Allen Lee Davis posted on the Internet. Part II focuses on the sociological and legal history of electrocution, most particularly the inappropriate precedential impact of In re Kemmler. In Kemmler, the Court found the Eighth Amendment inapplicable to the states and deferred to the New York legislature’s determination that electrocution was not cruel and unusual. Regardless, Kemmler has been cited repeatedly as Eighth Amendment support for electrocution despite Kemmler’s lack of modern scientific and legal validity.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Electrocution,