31 US states, the federal government and the US military use the death penalty. However, I've seen in news reports that different convicts are executed in different ways. The usual method seems to be through lethal injection, but I have also seen reports of convicts being executed through firing squad or being hanged.

Who decides in which way capital punishment should be delivered in the US? And is there some kind of oversight which prevents states from carrying it out with especially cruel and humiliating methods?

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    Some people would argue that the death penalty is an inherently inhumane punishment, no matter how you carry it out. Others would argue that the punishment should fit the crime, so convicts who committed especially heinous crimes should suffer before they die. This is quite a hot button issue. I tried to rewrite the question to be more about the actual question and less of a flamebait.
    – Philipp
    Commented Mar 17, 2018 at 11:36

1 Answer 1


The method(s) of execution are set out by the laws of the particular states. At the moment, all 31 states that authorise the death penalty use lethal injection as either the primary or sole method.

In some states where lethal injection is not the sole method, the condemned may choose to die via an alternative method, such as the electric chair. In some other states, another method may be chosen by the corrections officials if lethal injections are unavailable for whatever reason.

Source: Dealth Penalty Information Center, with relevant state statutes cited.

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