How It Works: The prisoner is shaved, strapped to a chair, and fitted with electrodes attached to conductive sponges--one on the head, one on the leg--creating a direct current. The prisoner is then hooded. The executioner pulls a switch, and 2,000 volts race through the prisoner's body as the internal body temperature approaches 140 degrees. If performed correctly, the procedure is supposed to cause immediate unconsciousness followed by near-instantaneous death.
Complications: The procedure is extremely gruesome to contemplate, and can burn conscious prisoners alive if performed incorrectly. Horrific accounts of botched electrocutions have essentially made the electric chair a relic of the past, an option selected by prisoners who fear lethal injection or simply want a more distinctive exit.