HCN concentration used in and duration of US g.c. executions

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Re: HCN concentration used in and duration of US g.c. execut

Postby friedrichjansson » 5 years 8 months ago (Fri Feb 22, 2013 12:43 am)

The book The Last Gasp contains the following description of the execution of the famous prisoner Caryl Chessman (mentioned already above):

Another reporter, John R. Babcock, who witnessed Chessman’s execution from only two feet away, later recalled, “The thrashing and gasping continued for five to eight minutes of excruciating agony and pain as he slowly suffocated. After a total of approximately nine minutes, the prison doctor evidently had pronounced Mr. Chessman dead.


So, another case of fairly prolonged motion. The reference given is

Affidavit of John R. Babcock, April 12, 1992, exhibit 1, vol. 1, Fierro v. Gomez, Plaintiffs’ Trial Exhibits.



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Re: HCN concentration used in and duration of US g.c. execut

Postby friedrichjansson » 5 years 8 months ago (Fri Feb 22, 2013 1:32 am)

Now we turn to the question of HCN concentration.. Green's objections:

[Rudolf assumes]
6) that 0.3-1% is an accurate claim of the concentrations used in gas chambers in the US.
7) that one should use 1% rather than 0.3%


Here is one of Rudolf's statements on concentration:

Leuchter speaks of concentrations of hydrogen cyanide used in executions in the USA in the order of magnitude of 3,200 ppm. In these cases, death occurs after 4 to 10 minutes, depending on the physical constitution of the victim.443

443 F. A. Leuchter, Boston, FAX to H. Herrmann dated April, 20, 1992, as well as private communication from Mr. Leuchter.


As we've seen, 4-10 minutes is probably overly optimistic.

This is what the first Leuchter Report says:

The first gas chamber for execution purposes was built in Arizona in 1920. It consisted of an airtight chamber with gasketed doors and windows, a gas generator, an explosion proof electrical system, an air intake and exhaust system, provision for adding ammonia to the intake air and mechanical means for activating the gas generator and air exhaust. The air intake consisted of several mechanically operated valves. Only the hardware has changed to the present.

The gas generator consisted of a crockery pot filled with a dilute solution (18%) of sulfuric acid with a mechanical release lever. The chamber had to be scrubbed with ammonia after the execution, as did the executee. Some 25 13-gram sodium cyanide59 pellets were used and generated a concentration of 3200 ppm in a 600 cubic foot chamber.60


Leuchter's history is incorrect. The first gas chamber was in Nevada. Arizona didn't build a gas chamber until the 1930s. Given this, I'm not sure what to make of his figures of 25 13-gram pellets and a 600 cubic foot chamber.

Germar Rudolf comments:

Equivalent to 17 m3, resulting in 10.5 g HCN/m3 = 0.87% by volume = 8,700 ppm. Experiments show that almost 50% of the HCN developed stays dissolved in the aqueous sulfuric acid (see chapter 8.3.3.4. of my expert report, G. Rudolf, The Rudolf Report, Theses & Dissertations Press, Chicago 2003, p. 265). Hence Leuchter’s concentration of 3,200 ppm is reasonable, although perhaps a little on the low side (depending on the volume of sulfuric acid used).


There are some problems with this account that need to be cleared up. First, Rudolf uses a conversion factor of 1 ppm = 1.2 mg/m^3 (see his footnote 339, or just observe what he did in converting 10.5 g/m^3 to 8,700 ppm). This is incorrect. The factor normally given is is 1 ppm = 1.1 mg/m^3. This will depend on temperature and pressure, but 1.2 is certainly too high. (Perhaps Rudolf was thinking of ppm by weight – depending on the temperature, 1.2 might be a reasonable figure for that.)

Therefore the figure 8,700 ppm needs to be corrected to around 9,500 ppm. If we take 50% of that, we get 4,750 ppm; if we use the exact results of Rudolf's experiment in chapter 8.3.3.4 and multiply by 20/37, we get 5135 ppm. It's clear already from this that Leuchter's estimate is significantly too low. (We will have to come back to Rudolf's experiment of chapter 8.3.3.4, because it was performed with KCN rather than NaCN, and because the conditions it used wrt temperature and humidity may not reflect those of US gas chambers.)

There is another reason to be suspicious of the figure 3,200 ppm: Leuchter uses it even when it contradicts the other figures he is giving. (Based on the first Leuchter report, it also seems that he was under the incorrect impression that 3,200 ppm is the lower explosion threshold for HCN.) Consider this document from the third Leuchter report (Fig. 72: Document series of a proposal for the construction of an execution gas chamber by Fred A. Leuchter Associates for the State of Missouri, dated December 31, 1987.)

Screenshot-8.png


In section 3.000, Leuchter, writes that a concentration of 3200 ppm "would be reasonable in a 600 CF chamber to ensure rapid death. This is a volume or approximately two (2) cubic feet of gas at a weight of 120-150 grams." The figure 2 cubic feet is fine - 2/600 = 1/300 = 3,333 ppm. The problem is that 120-150 grams of HCN are much more than two cubic feet or 3,200 ppm. Six hundred cubic feet is 17 cubic meters, so 120 grams comes to 7.06 grams per cubic meter, or some 6400 ppm, and 150 grams is some 8000 ppm. These figures are only a proposal, so we can't take them as actual, but they show that 3,200 is not an accurate figure – it is much too low (again).

This calculation ignored the fact that US gas chambers are underpressurized (a point I'll come back to later), but that factor would increase the concentration (by volume) that a given weight of HCN represents, so factoring it in would increase the error.

There is also some question over Leuchter's figure of 600 cubic feet. In section 3.000 as quoted above, Leuchter uses 600 cubic feet in estimating the quantity of HCN required; however, in section 2.002 of the same document he describes the gas chamber as follows:

It is a welded steel polygon containing twelve (12) sides of varying dimensions measuring a 7.5' diameter in one direction and an 8' diameter in the other. It is 8.5' high and has a volume of some 510 cubic feet.


The figure 510 cubic feet comes from multiplying 7.5*8*8.5. But that gives a large overestimate of the volume! It would be correct for a rectangular prism. To get the correct volume, two factors require correction:
(1) the base of the gas chamber is 12-sided (6 sides are very short, so it's approximately 6 sided), not rectangular
(2) the gas chamber slopes towards its apex; the top segment is not a prism but a pyramid.

Let's start with the first factor. Leuchter uses the figure 7.5*8 = 60 square feet for the area of the base. How do we correct this?

First off, there's the question of whether Leuchter's measurements are edge to edge or corner to corner. They must be edge to edge, for the following reasons:
(1) in examining the diagram of the Mississippi (not Missouri) gas chamber in the third Leuchter report (figure 70) with a screen ruler, there are pairs of parallel edge pairs matching Leuchter's description (short edge pairs and long edge pairs), whereas all measurements from corner to corner are equal or very nearly so, never in ratio near 8/7.5. Granted, this is a different gas chamber, but the shapes are roughly the same – 12 sides, every other one very short; they were both made by the same company (Eaton metal products).
(2) when measuring volume by multiplying dimensions, it doesn't make any sense to measure corner to corner; Leuchter would have known this (even though he was just making a rough estimate)

Also, assuming the measurement is edge to edge leads to a larger area than assuming it is corner to corner; thus to a lower HCN concentration. So if it did turn out that the measurements were corner to corner, the concentration would be adjusted upward, and our argument would just get a little stronger.

Method one: approximate the gas chamber by a regular hexagon whose sides are 7.5 feet apart. This will give an overestimate, because the shape of the gas chamber is derived from such a shape by chopping off all six of the corners, thereby reducing the area. The area of a regular hexagon whose sides are 7.5 feet apart is 48.713928975 square feet, or 0.811898816 times Leuchter's figure.

Method two (more accurate): assume that the shape (but not the size) of the Missouri gas chamber was the same as that of the Mississippi gas chamber (this is approximately accurate, as can be verified by finding images of both of them in the third Leuchter report and on flickr), and use figure 70 from the third Leuchter report. The pairs of sides matching Leuchter's description are, in my copy of the image, 422 and 396 pixels apart (422/396 is a fairly good match for 8/7.5, certainly within the uncertainties of the measurements). Leuchter's method of multiplying these dimensions gives a area of 167112 square pixels. We need to subtract the areas of the regions that fall outside of the of the dodecagonal base of the gas chamber but inside the rectangle drawn around it whose area Leuchter calculated. These regions can be divided into 4 small triangles, 4 large triangles, and 4 rectangles; I measured them with a screen ruler as follows:

small triangles:
20 * 36 pix
20 * 36 pix
22 * 32 pix
23 * 37 pix

rectangles
20 * 85 pix
20 * 90 pix
22 * 87 pix
23 * 90 pix

large triangles:
85 * 156 pix
90 * 158 pix
87 * 152 pix
90 * 152 pix

Routine computation of the areas shows that we have the following:
area of little triangles: 1497.5 sq pix
area of large triangles: 27192 sq pix
area of rectangles: 7484 sq pix
total: 35173.5 sq pix

This is 21.6462612% of the total area, to our figure after subtraction will be 0.783537388 times Leuchter's figure.

Given the results of these two methods, I feel comfortable using the multiplier 0.8 to correct for the fact that the chamber is not a rectangle but a dodecagon formed by de-cornering a hexagon. Multiplying Leuchter's base are of 60 square feet by 0.8 gives an area of the base of 48 square feet.


Now onto the second problem:

To figure out how much to reduce the volume because of the pyramid on top, we need to calculate the height of the pyramid. We will use the height of the door to estimate the height of the chamber without the top pyramid. Leuchter states that the door is 80 inches high. Using a screen ruler and these two images
http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected] ... otostream/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/pafringe/5 ... otostream/
I estimate that the door is 93% of the height of the portion below the top pyramid. That makes the portion below the top pyramid 86 inches high, or 7' 2''. That makes the pyramid 16 inches high.

However, I also calculated the height of the pyramid by assuming that the angle of ascent along the faces of the pyramid is the same in MO as Leuchter says it is in MS (31 degrees) and found that the pyramid is 2.25 feet high. Going by the images, the angle of ascent in MO is less than in MS, but to make the height just 16 inches it would have to be a little under 20 degrees, and I don't think it's that small. Part of the problem may be that Leuchter's measurement is off by a few inches (which wouldn't be surprising, since he was rounding to the nearest half foot). The other issue is that the top segment is not really a pyramid, but a truncated pyramid. I'm going to estimate that the full pyramid would be 20 inches high, and the truncated pyramid was correctly estimated at 16 inches.

Calculating the volume of that truncated pyramid gives 26.45 cubic feet, plus the rest of the gas chamber (area of base 48 square feet, height 7'2'') which has volume 344 cubic feet, for a total of 370.45 cubic feet.

Given our new volume, we can see that if 120-150 grams of HCN were released in the MO gas chamber the resultant concentrations would be 11,400 – 14,300 mg per cubic meter (divide by 1.1 to get ppm – provided you ignore the underpressure issue). Not 3,200 ppm but over 10,000!

If course, the figure 120-150 was just a proposal, not something that was actually used. If the amount of cyanide used was the 25 thirteen gram sodium cyanide pellets that Leuchter mentioned in connection with the first execution, assuming with Rudolf that half of the HCN produced actually gasifies, then the concentration of HCN would be 8,500 ppm (ignoring underpressure). Again, 3,200 is way too low.

In the third Leuchter report, Leuchter gives another figure:

The chemicals used by Mississippi are an approximate 37% Sulfuric Acid Solution (acid and distilled water) and an approximate 16 ounces of sodium cyanide. This requires twelve (12) pints of distilled water and six (6) pints of acid (98%), resulting in 18 pints of dilute sulfuric acid reacting with 24 briquets of sodium cyanide. This results in two (2) cubic feet of Hydrogen Cyanide gas at the 10 psi (approximate) operational pressure or an amount of approximately 7500 ppm.


This is more reasonable than the 3,200 figure, but note the full 16 ounces of NaCN. This will yield 250 grams HCN; if half remains dissolved that's 125 grams of HCN in the chamber. What is the chamber's volume? Leuchter describes it like this

It is hexagonal in shape, but with the corners replaced with the base of an equilateral triangle whose theoretical third angle would have been the original corners of the hexagon. The base of this triangle measures some 7”. Thus, each corner is actually two seams instead of one, each seam being one of the base angles of the equilateral triangle. The roof of the chamber is fabricated by a continuation of the side segments at pitch of some 31 degrees from the horizontal. The height of the roof is some 23” above the top of the chamber. The chamber measures some 6’ 2” in diameter from corner to corner and some 8’10” high in the center. The floor area of the chamber is about 29.7 square feet and the volume of the chamber is some 263 cubic feet.


The figure he gives for the area of the base – 29.7 square feet – fits pretty well with the other measurements he gives, so I'm happy to use it. The volume of 263 cubic feet, however, results from multiplying the area of the base by 8'10'' – we have our second problem again, that of the pyramid on top. I won't bore everyone by writing out all the details again – I used a screen ruler on this image and Leuchter's statement that the door is 77 inches high; there are some complications as the different data don't all quite agree. Using the height of the door and the screen ruler yields a lower height for the prismatic portion of the chamber than using Leuchter's angle of ascent and subtracting off his total height. My best guess, though, is that the volume is around 225 cubic feet.

Now, 125 grams in 225 cubic feet is 19600 mg / m^3 = 17800 ppm (ignoring the underpressure). Using Leuchter's figure of 263 cubic feet would give 15250 ppm. Unless for some reason a much greater percentage of the HCN produced remains dissolved in US gas chambers than did in Rudolf's experiments, the figure of 7500 ppm is much too low.

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Re: HCN concentration used in and duration of US g.c. execut

Postby friedrichjansson » 5 years 8 months ago (Fri Feb 22, 2013 1:50 am)

Rudolf also gives this information:

In relation to the quantities used, the U.S. execution gas chamber in Raleigh (North Carolina), for example, is said to use 454 g KCN in half concentrated sulfuric acid, leading to instant formation of hydrogen cyanide vapor, which is even visible for a short period to the witnesses in the witness room and which reaches the victim in seconds.2 As a matter of pure calculation, this generates approximately 180 g of hydrogen cyanide, corresponding to 150 liters of gas. However, since a considerable part of it remains dissolved in the half concentrated sulfuric acid (approximately 50%, see chapter 8.3.3.4.), we assume in the following that approximately 90 g or 75 liters of hydrogen cyanide are released as gas. In North Carolina, this gas arises immediately beneath the victim, so that the victim must be exposed, immediately after the beginning of the execution process, to a concentration which probably exceeds 10% by volume for a short period, but then falls steadily as a result of diffusion of the hydrogen cyanide throughout the chamber.446


The footnote reads

Assuming a volume of 10 m3 in the chamber, 75 Liter HCN corresponds to 0.75% by volume, i.e., somewhat more than double the end values taken by Leuchter.



That's 7500 ppm. Rudolf is accurate except for his consistent underestimates. The source for the North Carolina data says one pound of KCN is used

NorthCarolina.jpg


That gives 188 grams of HCN, which Rudolf rounds down to 180. Again Rudolf uses the factor 1.2 to convert 180 g to 150 liters; he should be using the factor 1.1 to convert 188 g to 170 liters. This gives 85 liters actually released as a gas, or assuming a volume of 10 m^3, 8500 ppm.



This site also has information on concentrations:

Inside the California chamber are two identical metal chairs with perforated seats, marked "A" and "B." (The twin chairs were last used in a double execution in 1962). Two guards strap the prisoner into chair A, attaching straps across his upper and lower legs, arms, thighs and chest. They affix a Bowles stethoscope to the person's chest so that a doctor on the outside can monitor the heartbeat and pronounce death. Beneath the chair is a bowl filled with sulphuric acid mixed with distilled water to give a concentration of approximately 37%, with a pound of sodium cyanide pellets suspended in a gauze bag just above. After the door is sealed, and when the warden gives the signal, the executioner in a separate room operates a lever that releases the cyanide into the liquid. This causes a chemical reaction that releases hydrogen cyanide gas, which rises through the holes in the chair.  (2 NaCn + H2SO4 = 2 HCN + Na2SO4).  When the reaction has finished the gas reaches a concentration of around 7,500 ppm.



The source is not named. I don't trust this account, because all sources I've seen say California used KCN, not NaCN.

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Re: HCN concentration used in and duration of US g.c. execut

Postby friedrichjansson » 5 years 8 months ago (Fri Feb 22, 2013 11:02 am)

Here's a useful article from the American Mercury from 1933 about gas executions in Nevada:
http://www.unz.org/Pub/AmMercury-1933may-00091

On execution duration it says the following:

Once the pellets fall into the liquid, there can be no bungling, and death is a certainty within from nine to fourteen minutes.


It has this account of an execution:

This was at 4:36 A.M. The heart action at that time was 108, strong and regular. The gas was started generating at 4:37 1/2. At 4:38 the pulse rate was 120, regular and strong. A small inspiration was taken at 4:37 3/4, at which time the prisoner indicated that he smelled the gas. At 4:38 he took a very deep inspiration, turning his head toward the gas. He gave a spasmodic cough, his head fell forward, and he became unconscious. Following this first deep inspiration there was a complete stopping of the heart action for fifteen seconds. After that short period, or at 4:38 1/2, the heart began to beat again in an irregular manner, continuing thus for fifteen seconds, when it became regular and strong. There was no apparent loss of power in the heart action. After this, for two minutes, the heart became slower, beating 100 times a minute at 4:41 1/2 and 80 times a minute at 4:44. At 4:46 1/2 the beats were distinctly regular but coming very weak. The last was noted at 4:47. Respirations during this time, after the first deep inspiration, were convulsive and irregular.


So respiration continued for 9 minutes 15 seconds after he first breathed the gas.

There is also some information on the quantity of cyanide used:

Suspended by strings are ten or twelve one-ounce pellets of sodium cyanide in solid form, and under them is a container filled with sulphuric acid. When the signal is given, the strings are severed, and the dropping of the pellets into the liquid immediately generates the deadly fumes, known as hydrocyanic gas.

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Re: HCN concentration used in and duration of US g.c. execut

Postby friedrichjansson » 5 years 8 months ago (Fri Feb 22, 2013 12:41 pm)

In calculating HCN concentrations from the amount of cyanide used, the volume of the chamber, and the percentage of cyanide which remains dissolved, it's necessary to keep track of whether NaCN or KCN is being used. One mole of NaCN or KCN will react to form one mole of HCN, so to determine the amount of HCN produced one just needs to know the molar masses. These are approximately

HCN: 27 g / mol
NaCN: 49 g / mol
KCN: 65 g / mol

Thus a given mass of KCN produces less HCN than the same mass of NaCN - about 49/65 as much.

Which states used KCN, and which NaCN? Looking through news archives, this is what I've turned up:

sodium cyanide: CO, MS, NM (plan), MO, OR (plan)
potassium cyanide: CA, MO, NC

Missouri is the only state appearing on both lists; it's not clear which is correct, or whether both were used at different times.

Some other information: the 1933 American Mercury story quoted above said that Nevada used NaCN. The book Legal Executions After Statehood in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah: A Comprehensive Registry makes it clear that Arizona, Colorado, and Nevada always used NaCN. Utah never had a gas chamber. New Mexico only used theirs once, and the aforementioned book doesn't say what type of cyanide they used, but in one of the news stories I looked at the New Mexico warden said something to the effect that all it would take to put the gas chamber back in operation is purchasing some sodium cyanide.

Therefore we get the following picture. (It shouldn't be taken as certain. The same state might have switched between NaCN and KCN over the years.)

Nevada: NaCN
Colorado: NaCN
Arizona: NaCN
North Carolina: KCN
Wyoming: ? (only used 5 times)
California: KCN
Missouri: News articles say both. Fred Leuchter says NaCN (third Leuchter report, fig. 72, sections 2.003, 2.004, 2.005 and 3.000).
Oregon: NaCN (probably)
Mississippi: NaCN
Maryland: ? (only used 4 times)
New Mexico: NaCN (probably)

These are the news articles I looked at:

http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=O- ... mber&hl=en

http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=-o ... mber&hl=en

http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=Uq ... mber&hl=en

http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=dJ ... mber&hl=en
32 sodium cyanide pellets

http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=bW ... mber&hl=en

http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=pp ... mber&hl=en

http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=Nr ... mber&hl=en

http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=nI ... mber&hl=en

http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=xU ... mber&hl=en

http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=eI ... mber&hl=en

http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=2T ... mber&hl=en

http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=_n ... mber&hl=en

http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=NP ... mber&hl=en

http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=oj ... mber&hl=en
32 sodium cyanide pellets

http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=qq ... mber&hl=en

http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=fu ... mber&hl=en

http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=Rg ... mber&hl=en

http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=X7 ... mber&hl=en

http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=1A ... mber&hl=en


The book The Last Gasp by Scott Christianson disagrees with this - the author says that only KCN was used:

As it would turn out, potassium cyanide eggs would prove to be the type of cyanide used exclusively in American executions from 1930 onward.


I have [EDIT: should read "haven't"] checked all of his sources, but I've already given plenty of evidence to show that his statement is totally wrong. He mentions KCN specifically in the execution of one Kelley
On the night of June 22, 1934, Kelley was stripped down to his shorts and socks (to prevent his clothes from absorbing any of the gas or prolonging his life) and marched into the death house. The guards seated him in the middle wooden chair and strapped him down tightly, putting a black blindfold over his eyes. Beneath the chair was a trough containing twelve potassium cyanide “eggs”—three more than Nevada had used. Under the trough was a pan of sulfuric acid. The guards quickly withdrew and sealed the door. Peering through the windows were fifteen physicians and a contingent of other witnesses. Somebody out of their sight pulled a lever and the “eggs” dropped into the bucket. White fumes boiled up from beneath the chair. In ten seconds Kelley was unconscious. In thirty seconds he appeared to be dead.


(Incidentally, Christianson says earlier that Nevada used 10 eggs. So how is 12 eggs three more than Nevada used?)

The book Legal Executions After Statehood in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah: A Comprehensive Registry spells the name Kelly and says that 12 ounces of sodium cyanide was used. It gives these sources (for Kelly in general, not NaCN specifically):

Albert Lea (MN) Evening Tribune: June 22, 1934. Galveston (TX) Daily News: June 23, 1934. Greeley (CO) Daily Tribune: December 28, 1933. Lubbock (TX) Morning Avalanche: November 15, 1933. Reno (NV) Gazette: January 3, 1934. Santa Fe New Mexican: June 22–23, 1934.


Christianson's sources are
Charles T. O’Brien, “Kelley Executed in New Gas Cell,” Denver Post, June 23, 1934.
Ibid.; “Death by Gas: 90¢,” Time, July 2, 1934.


I couldn't find the full texts of these, but nor could I find any evidence that they said anything about potassium cyanide.

Christianson also claims Nevada used 10 ounces of KCN to execute Robert White. He gives these sources:
“White Is Executed in Nevada by Gas,” NYT, June 3, 1930.
Edward E. Hamer, M.D., “The Execution of Robert H. White by Hydrocyanic Acid Gas,” JAMA 95 (August 30, 1930): 661–62.
“Nevada’s Gas House,” Outlook 155 (October 1930): 256.


The execution of Robert White was also mentioned in the American Mercury article cited above - which says 10-12 ounces of NaCN was used. The book Legal Executions After Statehood in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah: A Comprehensive Registry states that 12 ounces of NaCN was used, and gives these sources (for White in general, not for NaCN specifically):

Ada (OK) Evening News: May 16, 1928. Jefferson City (MO) Post-Tribune: June 2, 1930. Reno Nevada State Journal: June 2, 1930. Ogden (UT) Standard-Examiner: May 11, 1928; June 1, 1928. Reno (NV) Evening Gazette: January 28, 1932.


Since I haven't checked all of Christianson's sources I hesitate to make positive statements, but every source I have been able to check says that he's completely wrong about this.
Last edited by friedrichjansson on Sat Feb 23, 2013 11:52 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: HCN concentration used in and duration of US g.c. execut

Postby friedrichjansson » 5 years 8 months ago (Sat Feb 23, 2013 12:51 am)

No full text, but the title says it all:
http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/baltsun/acc ... ually+Long
13-Minute Gas Execution Found Not Unusually Long
The Sun (1837-1985) - Baltimore, Md.
Date: Jul 30, 1957
Start Page: 36
Pages: 2
Text Word Count: 481
Abstract (Document Summary)

Officials of States using lethal gas maintained the thirteen minutes required to kill Eddie Lee Daniels in Maryland's first gas chamber execution was not unusually long.

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Re: HCN concentration used in and duration of US g.c. execut

Postby friedrichjansson » 5 years 8 months ago (Sat Feb 23, 2013 1:04 am)

The following information on amounts of cyanide is contained in the book Legal Executions After Statehood in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah: A Comprehensive Registry:

Introduction

The executioner would place approximately fifteen ounces of potassium cyanide or sodium cyanide pellets into a container under the seat of the chair above a container of sulphuric acid and distilled water.

Nevada

Ceja, Luis
September 4, 1931
At a signal from the warden, at 5:29 A.M., the string was pulled, which released fifteen one-ounce “eggs” of sodium cyanide into the crock



White, Robert H.
June 2, 1930
In front of White was a two-gallon crock containing a gallon of sulphuric acid and a half gallon of water. At 4:36 A.M. the string was pulled, which released a dozen one-ounce “eggs” of sodium cyanide into the crock


Linden, Leroy L.;
Pedrini, Frank
July 15, 1954
The door was sealed and at 5:10 A.M. thirty sodium cyanide pellets, twice the usual amount, dropped into the vat of sulphuric acid


Arizona

Hernandez, Fred;
Hernandez, Manuel
July 6, 1934
Fifteen sodium cyanide pellets dropped into the crock of sulphuric acid at 5:09 A.M.


Anderson, Bert;
Patten, Ernest
August 13, 1937
At 4:09 A.M. a dozen cyanide pellets were dropped into a crock of sulphuric acid


Colorado

Kelly, William C.
June 22, 1934
at 8:30 P.M. twelve sodium cyanide pellets dropped into a container of sulphuric acid

Graham, John G.
January 11, 1957
At 7:56 P.M. the door to the chamber was sealed and one minute later thirty-two sodium cyanide pellets dropped eighteen inches into the container of sulphuric acid.


Probably all of these pellets / eggs are one ounce, except in the case of John Graham where they are probably half an ounce.

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Re: HCN concentration used in and duration of US g.c. execut

Postby friedrichjansson » 5 years 8 months ago (Sat Feb 23, 2013 11:42 am)

Another look at the volumes of gas chambers:

California:

This article describes the California gas chamber as "7 1/2 feet wide" and contains an image (below) that says that is has an area of 43 square feet

628x471.jpg
628x471.jpg (29.15 KiB) Viewed 2996 times


This article apparently contained the image below, which is not in the web version - see here

new-room-in-san-quentin.jpg
new-room-in-san-quentin.jpg (35.39 KiB) Viewed 2996 times


It claims the gas chamber has an area of 49 square feet.

The California gas chamber is octagonal (pictures are easy to find). A regular octagon whose sides are 7.5 feet apart has an area of 46.6 square feet; a regular octagon that is 7.5 feet from corner to corner has an area of 39 3/4 square feet.

The height looks to be around seven feet for the prismatic part, plus 1.5-2 feet for the pyramidal part.

350 cubic feet or 10 cubic meters looks like a reasonable estimate of the volume


Wyoming

This gas chamber is cylindrical. The conical part on top is very short. See the following images:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/bandersen/7448744114/
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_3tJLSagYXow/T ... C05996.JPG
http://www.helsinki.fi/~tuschano/cp/wyoming.gif
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/__AbIPZztwBM/T ... 768%5D.JPG
http://www.flickr.com/photos/timshell-jax/6010484970/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/spudshot/6316097617/

Quite small. Six feet in diameter, maybe? The height of the prismatic part looks like less than seven feet, and the conical part doesn't add much. The volume probably isn't much over 200 cubic feet, and might not even be that. Let's say 6 cubic meters.

Maryland

According to Women and the Death Penalty in the United States, 1900-1998 by Kathleen O'Shea, the chamber was hexagonal, eight feet high, with diameter 6.5 feet. If 6.5 feet is corner to corner, then (assuming a regular hexagon) the area of the base 27.4 square feet, if side to side, then 36.6 square feet.

Screenshot-7.png


Pictures of the Maryland chamber are hard to find, but here's one (I found the image here, originally from here

lucindadevlin_04.jpg


The outer shell continues to the ceiling, which makes estimating the interior height difficult. If you look above the door, you can see that there's a sloping surface that looks like part of the pyramid on top of the prism in the other chambers. For lack of a better estimate, let's assume the prismatic part is 7 feet high and the pyramidal part 1.5 feet high for a total height of 8.5 feet; this gives a volume of 7.5*(area of base). Using the larger figure for area of the base this gives us 275 cubic feet. It's apparent from the image that the chamber is not really a hexagon but a dodecagon with alternating short and long sides; this will cut a couple of percent off the volume. Eight cubic meters is a very generous (over)estimate.
Last edited by friedrichjansson on Sat Feb 23, 2013 9:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: HCN concentration used in and duration of US g.c. execut

Postby TheBlackRabbitofInlé » 5 years 8 months ago (Sat Feb 23, 2013 11:46 am)

Excellent work Friedrich.
Nazis tried to create super-soldiers, using steroids ... they sought to reanimate the dead—coffins of famous Germanic warriors were found hidden in a mine, with plans to bring them back to life at the war’s end.
- Prof. Noah Charney

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Re: HCN concentration used in and duration of US g.c. execut

Postby friedrichjansson » 5 years 8 months ago (Sat Feb 23, 2013 1:06 pm)

The book The Last Gasp says the following about the Wyoming gas chamber:
At the start of 1935 Wyoming adopted legislation prescribing lethal gas as its official execution method. The editor of the Rawlins Republican, W.L. Alcorn, commended his local state representative, Senator I.W. Dinsmore, for introducing the bill following the newspaper’s revulsion over a hanging that had nearly decapitated George Brownfield in 1930.86 Their opponents put up a stiff fight, but the pro-gassing forces ultimately won.87 Wyoming officials sought guidance from Nevada and Colorado and from Eaton Metal Products in establishing their new system. A Cheyenne architect, William Dubois, oversaw the design and construction in collaboration with Eaton.

In mid-November 1936, the Associated Press reported that Eaton had completed a “glistening, all-steel lethal gas chamber, guaranteed by the makers to ‘bring almost instant death.’ ” Earl Liston said his “tank” was completely airtight and should be “just as efficient” as the larger one in use in Colorado. “The gas swirls upward like smoke from a cigarette,” he said, “and the prisoner is unconscious at almost the first whiff.”88

In August 1937 Wyoming inaugurated its new Eaton-built gas chamber by executing Paul H. (“Perry”) Carroll, a thirty-six-year-old white man who allegedly had murdered his boss, the superintendent of the Wyoming division of the Union Pacific Railroad, at Rawlins (seventy miles from the Colorado border), on October 27, 1935. A small black blindfold was placed over Carroll’s eyes and the guards shook hands with him before exiting the chamber. Warden Alex McPherson pulled a control lever dropping a cheesecloth sack containing thirty-two cyanide eggs weighing half an ounce each into a bucket containing a mixture of three quarts of water and three pints of sulfuric acid beneath the chair, sending deadly fumes swirling through the cell. After a few deep breaths, his head pulled back and he gasped, then his head fell to his chest; his body made further reflex spasms for about six minutes. As soon as death was pronounced, another switch was thrown to open a vent at the top of the chamber, and an electric fan helped evacuate gas from the room. Valves on four ammonia tanks were then opened to neutralize the lethal fumes. Finally, after fourteen minutes of the ammonia treatment, guards wearing gas masks unbolted the door and removed Carroll’s body.89


87. “Gas Execution Fight Rages,” LAT, January 3, 1937.
88. “Wyoming Prison Gets New ‘Tank’ for Executions,” Evening Independent, November 11, 1936.
89. United Press, “First Gas Execution in Wyoming Prison,” JCPT, August 13, 1937; “Perry Carroll
Executed at 12:16 A.M. Today,” RRB, August 13, 1937.
[RRB = Rawlins Republican-Bulletin]


A pound of cyanide. Doesn't say whether it's NaCN or KCN, but they consulted with Nevada and Colorado, both of which used NaCN, so there's a good chance that Wyoming used NaCN as well.

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Re: HCN concentration used in and duration of US g.c. execut

Postby friedrichjansson » 5 years 8 months ago (Sat Feb 23, 2013 4:20 pm)

Now for some information about North Carolina.

The first to be executed in NC was Allen Foster; his execution did not go well, and a reformulation of the technique apparently followed before the second execution, which was of Ed Jenkins.

We've seen that in 1994 NC used a pound of potassium cyanide. In a previous post I put them on the potassium cyanide list. That may have been premature. The only sources I had for NC using potassium cyanide were from 1994. This article on the Ed Jenkins execution (1936) says sodium cyanide:
http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=wf ... 5330&hl=en
It also specifies that 15 one-ounce pellets were used.

Here's another article on the same execution that also says 15 pellets were used:

http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=kF ... +gas&hl=en

According to a 2008 Ph.D. thesis by Seth Kotch titled Unduly Harsh and Unworkably Rigid: The Death Penalty in North Carolina, 1910-1961 (available online), 15 oz of potassium cyanide was used:

Officials attending to Foster’s death used fifteen one-ounce pellets of potassium cyanide, dropped into a mixture of one quart of sulphuric acid and one quart of water. For Jenkins, they used three pints and acid and three quarts of water.


The part about changing the amount of acid and water and not the amount of cyanide fits with the first news story above, except that the latter says four pints (not three) of water were used for Jenkins. The reference given is

George deRoulhac Hamilton, “Death Comes Quickly to Second Gas Victim,” RNO, 1 February 1936, p. 1. [RNO = Raleigh News and Observer]


The Raleigh News and Observer archive doesn't seem to be online. Can anyone find this article and see whether there's any mention of potassium cyanide?

The book The Last Gasp has a different account of this story (he says the amount of cyanide was changed from 5 oz to 15 oz), but everything points to him being wrong (again). I won't bother with a detailed critique.

The 2001 dissertation The Transition of Methods of Execution in North Carolina: A Descriptive Social History of Two Time Periods, 1935 & 1983 by Katrina Nannette Seitz has some additional information (although nothing directly on NaCN versus KCN).
dissertation.pdf
(844.66 KiB) Downloaded 79 times


Officials at the State Prison in Raleigh took no chances in preparing for the execution of Ed Jenkins on January 31, 1936. As Shipman (1996) noted, in lieu of public condemnation of a new method of execution, states will oftentimes attempt to perfect the techniques associated with its use. North Carolina adopted the “Colorado Formula”, which consisted of fifteen one-ounce pellets of cyanide, three pints of sulfuric acid, and three quarts of water. In essence, less sulfuric acid would be used, and more water added. In addition, the death chamber was “...moderately warm” compared to the freezing cold execution chamber at Foster’s execution (News & Observer, February 1st, 1936, p. 1). The bold headlines of the News & Observer on February 1, 1936 read, “Death Comes Quickly To Second Gas Victim”. The media reports indicated that Ed Jenkins, a convicted murderer, was dead in less than one minute, however “...during the next five minutes, there were an even dozen involuntary contractions of the diaphragm, occurring spasmodically, but not violently...” (p. 1). Physicians present at Jenkins’ execution attributed these spasms to “...reflex actions...” (ibid.).


If it is correct that the new system was based on advice from Colorado then it probably used sodium cyanide, since all sources I've found on Colorado point to them using sodium cyanide. The information about the temperature is quite interesting. I'll come back to it later.

Seitz' dissertation has some other very interesting material.

In states that use lethal gas, the design of the equipment is fairly uniform. The chair is contained in an airtight compartment with windows for accommodating witnesses viewing the procedure. A metal container is located beneath the seat of the chair, which contains one pound of cyanide pellets. At the warden’s directive, staff turn keys on a control panel – this releases the pellets into a solution of sulfuric acid and water. The resulting mixture forms hydrocyanic gas, also known as prussic acid. The fumes from the prussic acid, which resemble wisps of smoke, rise upward to the face of the condemned. The inmate breathes these fumes, and ultimately dies from hypoxia, or the inability of the body’s cells to process oxygen


And whom does she cite for this information?

The Leuchter Report, 1988; North Carolina Department of Correction, 1999).


Yes indeed. Shouldn't someone inform Virginia Polytechnic Institute that they're handing out Ph.D.'s to people who cite "pseudoscientific" work?

In fact, she cites Leuchter repeatedly, and her bibliography contains

The leuchter report: An engineering report on the alleged execution gas chambers at auschwitz, birkenau, and majdanek, poland (1988). Samisdat Publishers, Ltd.


Here she discusses the temperature problem and cites Leuchter again:

The logistics of administering the gas itself were also not clearly detailed prior to the adoption of the new method. The temperature in the death chamber during Foster’s execution hovered just above freezing, when in fact, better vaporization is achieved if the temperature inside the execution chamber is warm (see The Leuchter Report, 1988). This also created concern during Nevada’s first lethal gas execution in 1924 – the temperature in the death chamber was fifty-four degrees due to a malfunctioning space heater (Chan, 1975). In cooler temperatures, hydrocyanic acid tends to liquefy, slowing the process of asphyxiation and protracting the suffering of the prisoner (News & Observer, February 1st, 1936). North Carolina prison officials, in preparing for another gas execution on January 31, 1936, quickly consulted with chemists in the State of Colorado in hopes of eliminating a repeat of the Foster spectacle. Colorado had recently adopted lethal gas, and advised North Carolina prison authorities to alter the formula for the hydrocyanic solution. Colorado’s prison staff also recommended that the execution chamber be heated to avoid prolonging the death of the inmate, and assuring a more vigorous vaporization process. It is fairly clear, then, that Foster’s agonizing experience in the lethal gas chamber was due to several factors – two of which being a death chamber that was far too cold, and a miscalculated gas formula.


Here she cites Leuchter again:

Fred A. Leuchter, designer of execution equipment, remarked:

Execution gas chamber design requires the consideration of many complicated problems. A mistake in any area may, and probably will, cause death or injury to witnesses or technicians (1988: 9).



And again:

In addition, lethal gas itself appeared to have fallen into national disfavor by the end of World War II – the use of gas chambers in Nazi Germany, coupled with the expense of maintaining the complicated machinery, were but two factors some have speculated as being the cause of its decreased use (see Johnson, 1998). In addition, operating lethal gas chambers required a great deal of expertise in assuring that witnesses and prison staff were safe from accidental leaks during the procedures (ibid.; see also The Leuchter Report, 1988).


After mentioning Nazi gas chambers, she says "see also The Leuchter Report"!

There's also a statement on execution time:

Although lethal gas was expected to be a more humane method of execution, reports abounded across the country concerning the unnecessary suffering of condemned prisoners. Death did not occur immediately as originally proposed – in fact, several executions by lethal gas have taken fifteen to twenty minutes

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Re: HCN concentration used in and duration of US g.c. execut

Postby friedrichjansson » 5 years 8 months ago (Sat Feb 23, 2013 4:29 pm)

A little more on North Carolina, from The Last Gasp:

By the late 1930s, however, many key players in North Carolina had grown uneasy with the gas chamber. Another horrible spectacle surrounded the double execution in February 1938 of Edgar Smoak and Milford Exum, both of which dragged on for interminable spans—thirteen and seventeen minutes, respectively.79 Former warden H.H. Honeycutt publicly favored returning to electrocution, saying, “The gas chamber is horrible. Gas is so long and drawn out. . . . I believe most of the men on death row would rather die by electricity than gas.”80

79. RNO, February 19, 1938.
80. Quoted in the Salisbury Herald, July 4, 1938.
[RNO = Raleigh News & Observer]

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Re: HCN concentration used in and duration of US g.c. execut

Postby friedrichjansson » 5 years 8 months ago (Sat Feb 23, 2013 4:39 pm)

Here's one that I missed from Legal Executions After Statehood in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah: A Comprehensive Registry:

Arizona

Folk, Carl J.
March 4, 1955
Everyone exited the chamber and the door was sealed at 5:03, and immediately sixteen sodium cyanide pellets were dropped into a crock of sulphuric acid.

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Re: HCN concentration used in and duration of US g.c. execut

Postby friedrichjansson » 5 years 8 months ago (Sat Feb 23, 2013 5:21 pm)

Now I want to revisit the information about temperature from North Carolina in connection with the question of how much of the hydrogen cyanide remains dissolved. I've been assuming that half of the hydrogen cyanide remains dissolved, based on an experiment of Germar Rudolf, described in chapter 8.3.3.4 of The Rudolf Report. Rudolf actually found that 20/37 of the HCN gasified and 17/37 remained dissolved; that is, 54% gasified. So by using 50%, I've been underestimating the concentrations predicted by Rudolf's result by 8%.

What were the conditions of Rudolf's experiment? First, he used KCN. Would the results be any different with NaCN? Is there any theoretical reason they should be? Has any other experimental work been done on this? I don't know. Does anyone else? I would like to see similar experiments with NaCN.

Rudolf writes:

The following parameters were kept constant:
11°C air and sample temperature;
90% relative atmospheric humidity;


The temperature of 11°C is certainly less than is used in US gas executions (with a few early bungled exceptions). As we saw, the officials in North Carolina acting on advice from gas chamber experts in Colorado increased the temperature in order to increase either the rate of gasification or the amount of HCN released as a gas:

Colorado’s prison staff also recommended that the execution chamber be heated to avoid prolonging the death of the inmate, and assuring a more vigorous vaporization process.


If they (and Fred Leuchter) are correct, then the percentage of HCN released as a gas in US gas chamber executions is likely to be considerably more than the 54% Rudolf got at a temperature of 11°C.

Rudolf also worked with 90% relative humidity - almost certainly more humid than in US gas chambers. As Rudolf has noted, humidity inhibits the evaporation of HCN from zyklon-B:

The evaporation is “seriously delayed” at high atmospheric humidity, because the evaporating hydrogen cyanide withdraws considerable quantities of energy from the liquid HCN, the carrier material and the ambient air. As a consequence, the temperature of the product and the ambient air drops. If the temperature of the air reaches the dew point, atmospheric humidity condenses out onto the carrier material, which binds the hydrogen cyanide and slows down the evaporation process.


Would a similar effect hold in the case of HCN produced by reacting KCN or NaCN with H2SO4?

It is not clear to me whether these two factors will simply make the HCN be released more rapidly, or whether it will increase the total amount of HCN released. Does anyone with a chemistry background want to take a stab at this question?

There is also the question of pressure. US gas chambers are depressurized to something like 0.7 atmospheres. Low pressure speeds evaporation in general - but will this apply in this case, and with what effect?

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Re: HCN concentration used in and duration of US g.c. execut

Postby friedrichjansson » 5 years 8 months ago (Sat Feb 23, 2013 7:14 pm)

Having reconsidered whether North Carolina always used KCN, I need to do the same for California. Previously I dismissed this account because at the time I had only seen sources saying that California used KCN

Inside the California chamber are two identical metal chairs with perforated seats, marked "A" and "B." (The twin chairs were last used in a double execution in 1962). Two guards strap the prisoner into chair A, attaching straps across his upper and lower legs, arms, thighs and chest. They affix a Bowles stethoscope to the person's chest so that a doctor on the outside can monitor the heartbeat and pronounce death. Beneath the chair is a bowl filled with sulphuric acid mixed with distilled water to give a concentration of approximately 37%, with a pound of sodium cyanide pellets suspended in a gauze bag just above. After the door is sealed, and when the warden gives the signal, the executioner in a separate room operates a lever that releases the cyanide into the liquid. This causes a chemical reaction that releases hydrogen cyanide gas, which rises through the holes in the chair. (2 NaCn + H2SO4 = 2 HCN + Na2SO4). When the reaction has finished the gas reaches a concentration of around 7,500 ppm.


The references I had relied upon for California using KCN were from 1957, 1960, and 1967.

In fact there are a number of news stories from the last two decades saying that California uses sodium cyanide. Unfortunately most of them are pay-for access. Here are some that are freely available, or partially so with the sodium cyanide part showing:

http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=pT ... nide&hl=en
http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=Y- ... nide&hl=en
http://nl.newsbank.com/nl-search/we/Arc ... YMD_date:D

Here are some snippets from pay articles turned up by google news search:

The Dallas Morning News : San Quentin officials prepare for...
‎$2.95 -
Dallas Morning News - Apr 12, 1992
San Quentin's gas chamber is an octagonally-shaped, pale green vacuum chamber that is ... Grains of sodium cyanide are placed inside cheesecloth sacks and ...

SACRAMENTO BEE : GRIM RITE OF DEATH AWAITING HARRIS
‎$2.95 -
Sacramento Bee - Apr 15, 1992
Already, corrections officers at San Quentin have begun carrying out the ... Two pieces of cheesecloth containing sodium cyanide granules already will be ...

SACRAMENTO BEE : MASON GETS HIS WISH, IS PUT TO DEATH
‎$2.95 -
Sacramento Bee - Aug 24, 1993
San Quentin Warden Daniel Vasquez said he asked Mason repeatedly through the night if .... officials placed two cheesecloth packet containing sodium cyanide ...

San Quentin Death Row Crowded
‎Pay-Per-View -
Boston Globe - Jan 9, 1966
The number of men waiting to be executed at San Quentin Prison has doubled ... In 1062, he said 12 persons were put to death in the gas chamber-and eight in ... After sodium cyanide pellets fell into sulphuric acid bath that day California laws ...


National Public Radio: SAN QUENTIN INMATE'S IMMINENT...
‎$3.95 -
National Public Radio - Apr 12, 1992
San Quentin state prison, a pale scrawl of buildings surrounded by fences and ... And that will lower the fulcrum arms allowing the sodium cyanide crystals ...

… Bee, The : BREAKING IN<br>A TOUR OF SAN QUENTIN WITH ITS...
‎$3.95 -
Modesto Bee - Dec 6, 1990
San Quentin's gas chamber has not been used since the Aaron Mitchell ... of 194 people, including three women, have been gassed here with sodium cyanide.

The Sacramento Bee : DEATH FOLLOWS A SCRIPT AT PRISON
‎$2.95 -
Sacramento Bee - Feb 22, 1996
For the group - known inside the gates of San Quentin as the lethal injection ... There also are no warnings that sulfuric acid and sodium cyanide, ...

SACRAMENTO BEE : PROTESTS ALREADY UNDER WAY AT PRISON
‎$2.95 -
Sacramento Bee - Mar 25, 1990
When Warden Daniel Vasquez orders a guard to drop two pieces of cheesecloth filled with sodium cyanide into a solution of distilled water and sulfuric acid ...

… DEATH WATCH AT SAN QUENTIN - <br>ELABORATE PREPARATIONS …
‎$3.50 -
Daily News of Los Angeles - Mar 22, 1992
Pete Wilson considers Robert Alton Harris' plea for clemency, San Quentin officials ... The cell is one of 68 in the same section of San Quentin that holds the gas chamber, ... Grains of sodium cyanide are placed inside cheesecloth sacks and ...

Fresno Bee, The : NARCOTICS AGENTS IN PLANS VAN DE KAMP...
‎$2.95 -
Fresno Bee - Sep 29, 1987
The officers found three kilograms of sodium cyanide -- the same as is used in the San Quentin gas chamber and also a component in making illegal PCP.

SACRAMENTO BEE : WAITING FOR DEATH OR MERCY<br> …
‎$2.95 -
Sacramento Bee - Apr 22, 1992
... wing of San Quentin Prison that he believed encased the gas chamber. ... And when radios reported shortly before 6:30 am that the sodium cyanide ...

COLUMN ONE A Precise Procedure for Killing The schedule for...
‎Pay-Per-View -
Los Angeles Times - Apr 11, 1992
... the people of California will carry out their first execution by lethal gas in a generation. ... to cut the cloth in the shape of a sack to hold the sodium cyanide pellets. ... In the annals of San Quentin, only a handful of the 194 people executed by ...


I also looked at the 1950 book The San Quentin Story by Clifton Duffy, who was warden at San Quentin prison (the location of the California gas chamber). Duffy writes
I remember seeing the dumpy little riveted steel cell the day it was delivered [...] the state paid a Denver firm $5,016,68 for it. [...] I can't help wondering if Jim Holohan [the man who recommended the gas chamber] [...] ever realized the complex problems involved in generating enough hydrocyanic-acid gas to kill a man. The manual of operations lists twenty-one separate steps for the technical operators alone [...] The chemical supplies include sodium cyanide eggs, sulphuric acid, distilled water, and ammonia - with a discount if they're bought in quantity. We pay about fifty cents for a pound of cyanide, enough to execute one man, but other expenses [...] bring the cost of the average execution to one hundred and fifty dollars.


duffy.jpg


He also refers the gas chamber a "nine foot chamber." Even if this refers to the diagonal it's somewhat larger than the measurement of 7.5 feet face to face used above. On the other hand, Duffy isn't really giving a measurement, so I'm not sure that the figure should be taken seriously as a basis for calculating the volume.


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