Methods Of Execution

Authorized Methods by State

StateAuthorized Methods

Alabama

Effective 7/1/18, lethal injection will be administered unless the prisoner affirmatively chooses nitrogen hypoxia or electrocution “in writing and delivered to the warden of the correctional facility within 30 days after the certificate of judgment pursuant to a decision by the Alabama Supreme Court affirming the sentence of death.” “If electrocution or nitrogen hypoxia are held unconstitutional, the method of execution shall be lethal injection.” If lethal injection “is held unconstitutional or otherwise becomes unavailable, the method of execution shall be by nitrogen hypoxia.” (Ala. Code § 15-18-82.1) “If electrocution, nitrogen hypoxia, and lethal injection are all held to be unconstitutional …, then all persons sentenced to death for a capital crime shall be executed by any constitutional method of execution based on the sole discretion of the Commissioner of the Department of Corrections.” (Ala. Code § 15-18-82.1.c)

Arizona

Authorizes lethal injection for persons sentenced after 11/15/92; those sentenced before that date may select lethal injection or lethal gas. If a person does not choose, lethal injection will be used. (Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 13-757)

Arkansas

Lethal injection is the method unless it is “invalidated by a final and unappealable court order” and then the execution shall be electrocution. (Ark. Code Ann. § 5-4-617)

California

Provides that lethal injection be administered unless the prisoner requests lethal gas. If a person does not choose, lethal injection will be used. (Cal. Penal Code § 3604)

Colorado

Lethal injection is the sole method. (Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-1.3-1202)

Delaware

Lethal Injection is the sole method. (Del. Code Ann. tit. 11 § 4209) 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 eligible to choose this alternative and Delaware dismantled its gallows.

Florida

Lethal injection will be administered unless the prisoner affirmatively chooses electrocution ” in writing and delivered to the warden of the correctional facility within 30 days after the issuance of mandate pursuant to a decision by the Florida Supreme Court affirming the sentence of death.” If lethal injection or electrocution is found to be unconstitutional, then any constitutional method will be administered. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 922.105)

Georgia

Lethal injection is the sole method. (Ga. Code Ann. § 17-10-38) (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. (Idaho Code Ann. § 19-2716)

Indiana

Lethal injection is the sole method. (Ind. Code Ann. § 35-38-6-1)

Kansas

Lethal injection is the sole method. (Kan. Stat. Ann. § 22-4001)

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. If no choice is made “at least twenty (20) days before the scheduled execution, the method shall be by lethal injection.” (Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 431.220)

Louisiana

Lethal injection is the sole method. (La. Stat. Ann. § 15:569)

Mississippi

Authorizes use of nitrogen hypoxia if either lethal injection is held unconstitutional or “otherwise unavailable”; then authorizes electrocution if nitrogen hypoxia and lethal injection are held unconstitutional or “otherwise unavailable”; finally authorizes firing squad if nitrogen hypoxia, lethal injection, and electrocution are held unconstitutional or “otherwise unavailable.” (Miss. Code Ann. § 99-19-51)

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. (Mo. Ann. Stat. § 546.720)

Montana

Lethal injection is the sole method. (Mont. Code Ann. § 46-19-103)

Nebraska

Lethal injection is the sole method. (Neb. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 83-964) (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.)

Nevada

Lethal injection is the sole method. (Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. §176.355)

New Hampshire

Lethal injection but allows hanging “if for any reason the commissioner [of corrections] finds it to be impractical to carry out the punishment of death by administration of the required lethal substance or substances, the sentence of death may be carried out by hanging.” (N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 630.5)

New Mexico

Lethal injection was the sole method. New Mexico abolished the death penalty in 2009. However, the act is not retroactive, leaving two people on the state’s death row.

North Carolina

Lethal injection is the sole method. (N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 15-188)

Ohio

Lethal injection is the sole method. (Ohio Rev. Code. Ann. § 2949.22)

Oklahoma

Authorizes use of nitrogen hypoxia if either lethal injection is held unconstitutional or “otherwise unavailable”; then authorizes electrocution if nitrogen hypoxia and lethal injection are held unconstitutional or “otherwise unavailable”; finally authorizes firing squad if nitrogen hypoxia, lethal injection, and electrocution are held unconstitutional or “otherwise unavailable.” (Okla. Stat. Ann. tit. 22 § 1014)

Oregon

Lethal injection is the sole method. (Or. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 137.473)

Pennsylvania

Lethal injection is the sole method. (61 Pa. Stat. and Cons. Stat. Ann. § 4304)

South Carolina

Allows prisoners to choose between lethal injection and electrocution. If a prisoner does not choose, then the default method will be electrocution for those sentenced prior to June 8, 1995 (the effective date of the law) and lethal injection for those sentenced on or after June 8, 1995. If lethal injection is held to be unconstitutional, then electrocution will be used. (S.C. Code Ann. § 24-3-530)

South Dakota

Lethal injection is the sole method. (S.D. Codified Laws § 23A-27A-32.1)

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. If lethal injection is held to be unconstitutional or if the lethal substances are unavailable, then electrocution will be used. If both lethal injection and electrocution is held to be unconstitutional, then “any constitutional method of execution” will be used. (Tenn. Code Ann. § 40-23-114)

Texas

Lethal injection is the sole method.

Utah

Authorizes the use of the firing squad if lethal-injection drugs are unavailable or if lethal injection is held to be unconstituitonal. Also, if a prisoner was sentenced to death before May 3, 2004, he may chose firing squad as the method of execution. (Utah Code Ann. § 77-18-5.5)

Virginia

Allows prisoners to choose between lethal injection and electrocution. “In the event the prisoner refuses to make a choice at least 15 days prior to the scheduled execution, the method of execution shall be by lethal injection.” (Va. Code Ann. § 53.1-234)

Washington

Provides that lethal injection be administered unless the inmate requests hanging. (Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 10.95.180)

Wyoming

Authorizes lethal gas if lethal injection is held to be unconstitutional. (Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 7-13-904)

U.S. Military

Lethal injection is the sole method.

U.S. Government

Lethal injection is the sole method. (28 C.F.R. § 26.3)

Sources

Bureau of Justice Statistics, Capital Punishment 2011; updat­ed by DPIC.