Methods of Execution

Authorized Methods

Methods by State

Description of Each Method

Botched Executions

Lethal Injection

 


Authorized Methods


(click the state to get specific information about the methods authorized)

Method
# of executions by method since 1976
# of states authorizing method
Jurisdictions that Authorize
Lethal Injection 1236 34 states + U.S. Military and U.S. Gov't

Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut*, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, LouisianaMississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico*, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wyoming, U.S. Military, U.S. Government

*New Mexico, Connecticut, and Nebraska abolished the death penalty but their repeals may not apply retroactively, leaving inmates on death row in each state.

To find the drug protocols used by states, see State-by-State Lethal Injection.

Electrocution 158 8 states (all have lethal injection as primary method). Tenn. would impose the electric chair if lethal injection drugs cannot be obtained.

Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, [Oklahoma], South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia

The supreme courts of Georgia (2001) and Nebraska (2008) have ruled that the use of the electric chair violates their state constitutional prohibitions against cruel and unusual punishment.

Gas Chamber 11 5 states (all have lethal injection as primary method) Arizona, California, Missouri, [Wyoming], [Oklahoma] UPDATE: On April 17, 2015, Okla. Gov. Mary Fallin signed legislation allowing the state to use nitrogen gas as a form of execution if either the drugs for lethal injection are unavailable or if lethal injection is struck down by the courts.
Hanging 3 3 states (all have lethal injection as primary method) Delaware, New Hampshire, Washington
Firing Squad 3 2 states (all have lethal injection as primary method)

[Oklahoma], Utah
UPDATE: On March 23, 2015, Utah Governor Gary Herbert signed legislation reauthorizing the state to use the firing squad in the event that the drugs required for lethal injection are unavailable. Prior to this, the firing squad was an option, but was only allowed for inmates who chose this method prior to its elimination in 2004.

Oklahoma offers firing squad only if lethal injection and electrocution are found unconstitutional.

NOTE: states in [brackets] authorize the listed method only if a current method is found unconstitutional (see state description, below, for more information).


Authorized Methods by State


Alabama Effective 7/1/02, lethal injection will be administered unless the inmate requests electrocution.
Arizona Authorizes lethal injection for persons sentenced after 11/15/92; those sentenced before that date may select lethal injection or lethal gas.
Arkansas Authorizes lethal injection for persons whose offense occurred on or after 7/4/83; those who committed their offense before that date may select lethal injection or electrocution.
California Provides that lethal injection be administered unless the inmate requests lethal gas.
Colorado Lethal injection is the sole method.
Connecticut Lethal injection is the sole method.  Connecticut abolished the death penalty in 2012. However, the act wasn't retroactive, leaving 11 people on the state's death row.
Delaware Lethal Injection is the sole method. Hanging was an alternative for those whose offense occurred prior to 6/13/86, but as of July 2003 no inmates on death row were elligible to choose this alternative and Delaware dismantled its gallows.
Florida Allows prisoners to choose between lethal injection and electrocution
Georgia Lethal injection is the sole method. (On October 5, 2001, the Georgia Supreme Court held that the electric chair was cruel and unusual punishment and struck down the state's use of the method)
Idaho Lethal injection is the sole method as of July 1, 2009.
Indiana Lethal injection is the sole method.
Kansas Lethal injection is the sole method.
Kentucky Authorizes lethal injection for those convicted after March 31, 1998; those who committed the offense before that date may select lethal injection or electrocution
Louisiana Lethal injection is the sole method.
Mississippi Lethal injection is the sole method.
Missouri Authorizes lethal injection or lethal gas; the statute leaves unclear who decides what method to use, the inmate or the Director of the Missouri Department of Corrections.
Montana Lethal injection is the sole method.
Nebraska Electrocution was the sole method until the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled the method unconstitutional in February 2008. In May 2009, the Nebraska Legislature approved lethal injection. State repealed the death penalty in 2015, but status of 10 inmates on death row is unclear.
Nevada Lethal injection is the sole method.
New Hampshire Authorizes hanging only if lethal injection cannot be given.
New Mexico Lethal injection is the sole method. New Mexico abolished the death penalty in 2009. However, the act wasn't retroactive, leaving two people on the state's death row.
North Carolina Lethal injection is the sole method.
Ohio Lethal injection is the sole method. In November 2009, they adoped a one-drug protocol, using only sodium pentathol.
Oklahoma As of April 17, 2015, authorizes use of nitrogen gas as a form of execution if either the drugs for lethal injection are unavailable or if lethal injection is struck down by the courts. Electrocution is authorized if lethal injection is held to be unconstitutional and nitrogen gas is not allowed. The firing squad could be used if none of the previously mentioned methods are allowed.
Oregon Lethal injection is the sole method.
Pennsylvania Lethal injection is the sole method.
South Carolina Allows prisoners to choose between lethal injection and electrocution
South Dakota Lethal injection is the sole method.
Tennessee Authorizes lethal injection for those whose capital offense occurred after December 31, 1998; those who committed the offense before that date may select electrocution by written waiver. As of 2014, electrocution is authorized if lethal injection drugs are not available.
Texas Lethal injection is the sole method.
Utah As of 2015, firing squad is an authorized method only if the drugs required for lethal injection are unobtainable or if the inmate was sentenced before 2004 and chose firing squad as the method of execution. 
Virginia Allows prisoners to choose between lethal injection and electrocution
Washington Provides that lethal injection be administered unless the inmate requests hanging. In March 2010, the state announced an option for inmates to choose a 1-drug protocol.
Wyoming Authorizes lethal gas if lethal injection is ever held to be unconstitutional.
U.S. Military Lethal injection is the sole method
U.S. Government The method of execution of Federal prisoners for offenses under the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 is that of the state in which the conviction took place, pursuant to 18 USC 3596. If the state has no death penalty, the judge must choose a state with the death penalty for carrying out the execution. For offenses under the 1988 Drug Kingpin Law, the method of executions is lethal injection, pursuant to 28 CFR, Part 26.

(Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Capital Punishment 2011; updated by DPIC)