“Like Watering Flowers”

Scott Christianson

in The Last Gasp

Published by University of California Press

Published in print December 2010 | ISBN: 9780520255623
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520945616 | DOI:
“Like Watering Flowers”

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In 1929, Nevada prison officials tore down the original death house and built a more elaborate structure using convict labor. In response to the safety concerns posed by the first lethal gassing, the designers had devised a sealed compartment to fit inside the building. Given all of the problems with employing liquid cyanide and the crude gas-delivery system used in the first execution, Nevada authorities tried to be more careful in selecting the type of lethal gas they would employ in future executions. The newest and most potent form of cyanide gas in the United States came from Germany. The product was called Zyklon. Nevada's shiny new gas chamber was inaugurated on June 2, 1930, on Bob White, who had been condemned for killing a fellow gambler at Elko. In the face of new refinements in gas-chamber design and fumigation, other states also began to consider switching to gas. One of them was Arizona, which amended its constitution to provide for the death penalty to be inflicted by administering lethal gas.

Keywords: Nevada; gas chamber; lethal gas; executions; cyanide; Germany; Zyklon; Bob White; fumigation; Arizona

Chapter.  14100 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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