The death penalty is dying a slow death in the US
New Hampshire is the latest to repeal the ultimate punishment - now half of the 50 states have abandoned it
Dan Vasquez used to push the lever on the gas chamber, or the “coughing box”, as it was known on death row. As California’s state executioner, he stared into the eyes of condemned men while they passed to the next world.
“They try to hold their breath, but it seeps in through the pores,” he said. “It takes seven seconds. The head rolls forward, and then they flatline. One told me: ‘Everyone will dance with the grim reaper.’”
It is 25 years since Vasquez, now retired, poisoned someone with hydrogen cyanide. He is still a supporter of the death penalty. But even he now admits its days are probably numbered. “Does it stop murders? No. Is it a deterrent? No,” he said. “If the politicians get more votes by opposing it, then they’re going to do that. Maybe it will be abolished.”..