Photos: A Haunting Look at America’s Execution Chambers

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Photo: Lucinda Devlin/Galerie m Bochum

Robert James Campbell, a 41-year-old Texas inmate, was supposed to die Tuesday night in a small room at the Huntsville Unit of the Texas State Penitentiary. His would have been the first death by lethal injection since the botched execution of Oklahoma prisoner Clayton Lockett just two weeks ago. Instead, he was granted a last-minute stay on his execution based on new evidence that Campbell's I.Q. was below 70, the baseline number frequently used to qualify someone for capital punishment.

His lawyers, though, initially petitioned on the grounds that Texas, like Oklahoma, does not disclose the source of the drugs used for lethal injections. A judge rejected that plea, citing previous court rulings. But even as he said his hands were tied, he wrote in his decision that the Oklahoma case "requires sober reflection on the manner in which this nation administers the ultimate punishment." 

Those reflections may come in the ghostly, eerie images of America's death chambers, collected from some of the 32 states where the death penalty is still legal. These rooms are empty more often than occupied. Built within prison walls, they are spare and cold and clinical. But what remains carries its own weight — a single gurney, a mirror, a clock hanging alone on a cinder block wall.

The photos in this collection are pieced together from photographers, wire services, and from prison archives. Most states rely on lethal injections as the only or primary mode of execution, but some still use or allow for other methods, including the electric chair and the gas chamber. Texas executes more prisoners than any other state, and is one of the few, including Oklahoma, Florida, and Missouri, that have executed prisoners this year. But even states that haven't put anyone to death for decades tend to have a place for doing so. A few of the execution facilities below have been decommissioned, but the great majority remain officially active.

Florida's lethal injection gurney is shown in an undated handout photo taken in the redesigned death chamber which will accomodate either the electric chair or the gurney at Florida State Prison. (AP Photo/Fla. Dept. of Corrections)
Photo: Florida Dept. of Corrections

Lethal Injection Gurney, Florida State Prison, Raiford, Florida, undated

The execution chamber at the Idaho Maximum Security Institution is shown on Thursday, Oct. 20, 2011 in Boise, Idaho. Paul Ezra Rhoades, who was convicted of killing three people in Idaho Falls and Blackfoot in 1988, is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection on Nov. 18, 2011. (AP Photo/Jessie L. Bonner)
Photo: Jessie L. Bonne/AP/Corbis

Execution Chamber, Idaho Maximum Security Institution, Boise, Idaho, 2011

This November 9, 1995 file photo, shows the execution chamber in the Indiana State Prison at Michigan City, Ind.  Gary Burris, the state's first person to be execution by lethal injection, is scheduled for execution on Nov. 29, 1995.  Burris was convicted in the 1980 slaying of an Indianapolis cab driver. (AP Photo/Indiana Department of Corrections)
Photo: Indiana Department of Corrections/AP

Execution Chamber, Indiana State Prison, Michigan City, Indiana, 1995

Photo: Lucinda Devlin/Galerie m Bochum

Electric Chair, Greensville Correctional Facility, Jarratt, Virginia, 1991

FILE -  In this Nov. 20, 2008, file photo, the execution chamber at the Washington State Penitentiary is shown with the witness gallery behind glass at right, in Walla Walla, Wash. Gov. Jay Inslee announced Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014, that he is suspending the use of the death penalty in Washington state, but the moratorium does not commute the sentences of people currently condemned to death. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
Photo: Ted S. Warren/AP/Corbis

Execution Chamber with Witness Gallery (right), Washington State Penitentiary, Walla Walla, Washington, 2008

Washington's governor announced this February that he is suspending the death penalty in the state. The moratorium does not commute the sentences of people currently on death row. There are nine. 

Photo: Lucinda Devlin/Galerie m Bochum

Lethal Injection Chamber, Territorial Correctional Facility, Canon City, Colorado, 1991

18 Jun 2010, Utah, USA --- The execution chamber at the Utah State Prison is seen after Ronnie Lee Gardner was executed by a firing squad in Draper June 18, 2010. Four bullet holes are visible in the wood panel behind the chair. Gardner, 49, was pronounced dead at 12:20 a.m. Mountain Time (0620 GMT) after being shot in the chest by a five-man firing squad at the Utah State Prison in Draper, a suburb of Salt Lake City. Gardner was condemned to die for the 1985 courthouse shooting of attorney Michael Burdell during an escape attempt. Gardner had been in court to face a charge of murdering a bartender. REUTERS/Trent Nelson-Salt Lake Tribune/Pool (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW IMAGES OF THE DAY) --- Image by ? POOL/Reuters/Corbis
Photo: POOL/Reuters/Corbis

Execution by Firing Squad, Utah State Prison, Draper, Utah, 2010

Utah now only allows for death by firing squad if lethal injection is deemed unconstitutional, or if a prisoner chose this method of death before May 3, 2004.

Photo: Lucinda Devlin/Galerie m Bochum

Witness Room, Broad River Correctional Facility, Columbia, South Carolina, 1991

The execution chamber at Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester, Okla., is shown Thursday, Aug. 8, 1996, just hours before the scehduled execution of Steven Keith Hatch. Hatch was scheduled to die early Friday by lethal injection for his part in the murder of an Oklahoma pastor and his wife. (AP Photo/Jerry Laizure)
Photo: Jerry Laizure/AP

Execution Chamber, Oklahoma State Penitentiary, McAlester, Oklahoma, 1996

Photo: Lucinda Devlin/Galerie m Bochum

Gas Chamber, Central Prison, Raleigh, North Carolina, 1991

North Carolina now uses lethal injection as its sole method of execution.

Photo: Lucinda Devlin/Galerie m Bochum

Gallows, Department of Corrections, Smyrna, Delaware, 1991

Delaware tore down its gallows in 2003. Executions are now performed through lethal injection.

The lethal injection chamber of the South Dakota State Penitentiary is seen on Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012. The state is preparing the upcoming executions of two inmates; Eric Robert and Donald Moeller, convicted of separate crimes that occurred more than two decades apart. The men are expected to be executed on as-of-yet unannounced dates yet this month or early next month. (AP Photo/Amber Hunt)
Photo: Amber Hunt/AP

Lethal Injection Chamber, South Dakota State Penitentiary, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, 2012

Photo: Lucinda Devlin/Galerie m Bochum

Lethal Injection Chamber, Nevada State Prison, Carson City, Nevada, 1991

The Nevada State Prison closed May 18, 2012. There are 83 people still on death row.

Kentucky State Penitentiary exucution chamber at the prison near Eddyville, Ky., Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2004. Kentucky death row inmate Thomas Clyde Bowling is scheduled to die by lethal injection Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2004, at 7:00 p.m., here for the killing of Tina and Edward Earley, and shooting their then two-year-old son outside the couple’s dry-cleaning business in Lexington, Ky., on April 19, 1990. (AP Photo/The Paducah Sun, Stephen Lance Dennee)
Photo: Stephen Lance Denee/AP

Execution Chamber, Kentucky State Penitentiary, Eddyville, Kentucky, 2004

Ricky Bell, the warden at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution in Nashville, Tenn., gives a tour of the prison's execution chamber on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 1999. Both the electric chair and the lethal injection gurney are kept in the room until the time is near for a prisoner to be executed and the one not used is taken out. Robert Glen Coe, the prisoner most likely to be the first executed in Tennessee since 1960, has chosen lethal injection over the electric chair. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Photo: Mark Humphrey/AP

Execution Chamber, Riverbend Maximum Security Institute, Nashville, Tennessee, 1999

**FILE**The execution chamber at Oregon State Penitentiary, shown here in Salem, Ore., April 25, 1997, has been used to put Charles Moore and Douglas Wright to death, both  by lethal injection.  Oregon state legislators have a tricky task ahead of them--how to implement the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling last year that mentally retarded people can't be executed.   The court left it up to states to deal with the details - including how to define mental retardation, and whether a judge or a jury makes the determination that a criminal who could face the death penalty is mentally retarded. None of the 27 people now on death row have been found to be mentally retarded. Nor were the only two convicts to be executed since voters reinstated capital punishment in 1984. (AP Photo/Jack Smith, File)
Photo: Jack Smith/AP

Execution Chamber, Oregon State Penitentiary, Salem, Oregon, 1997 

Photo: Lucinda Devlin/Galerie m Bochum

Lethal Injection Chamber From Family Witness Room, Parchman State Penitentiary, Parchman, Mississippi, 1998

11 Jul 2013, Georgia, USA --- FILE - This Oct. 24, 2001 file photo shows the death chamber at the state prison in Jackson, Ga. The state of Georgia plans to use a compounding pharmacy to get the drug needed for an execution scheduled for next week. A Department of Corrections spokeswoman on Thursday, July 11, 2013 confirmed that the state will get pentobarbital from a compounding pharmacy for the execution of Warren Lee Hill, which is set for Monday, July 15. (AP Photo/Ric Feld, File) --- Image by ? RIC FELD/ /AP/Corbis
Photo: Ric Feld/AP/Corbis

Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison, Jackson, Georgia, 2001

Photo: Pennsylvania Dept. of Corrections

State Correctional Institute Rockview, Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, 2008

A padded gurney in the execution chamber of the Montana State Prison in DeerLodge, Montana is shown off Wednesday Feb. 11, 1998. Convicted murderer Terry Langford is slated to die by injection Feb. 24, 1998.  (AP Photo/Montana Standard, Walter Hinick)
Photo: Walter Hinick/AP

Execution Chamber, Montana State Prison, Deer Lodge, Montana, 1998

Photo: Lucinda Devlin/Galerie m Bochum

Lethal Injection Chamber, Texas State Prison, Huntsville, Texas, 1992

Photo: Lucinda Devlin/Galerie m Bochum

Lethal Injection Chamber From Witness Room, Cummins Unit, Grady, Arkansas, 1991

Photo: Lucinda Devlin/Galerie m Bochum

Electric Chair, Holman Unit, Atmore, Alabama, 1991  

As of July 1, 2002, Alabama uses lethal injection unless a death row inmate requests death by electrocution. 

Photo: Lucinda Devlin/Galerie m Bochum

Lethal Injection Chamber, Louisiana State Prison, Angola, Louisiana, 1992

Leg restraints dangle from the injection table where the condemned prisoner is executed. Officials from San Quentin State Prison display the newly completed Lethal Injection Facility, on Tuesday Sept. 21, 2010 in San Quentin, Calif.Ran on: 09-22-2010Leg restraints dangle from the injection table where the condemned prisoner is executed.Ran on: 09-22-2010Leg restraints dangle from the injection table where the condemned prisoner is executed.Ran on: 09-22-2010Leg restraints dangle from the injection table where the condemned prisoner is executed.Ran on: 09-22-2010Leg restraints dangle from the injection table where the condemned prisoner is executed.Ran on: 09-22-2010Leg restraints dangle from the injection table where the condemned prisoner is executed.Ran on: 09-22-2010Leg restraints dangle from the injection table where the condemned prisoner is executed.Ran on: 09-22-2010Leg restraints dangle from the injection table where the condemned prisoner is executed.Ran on: 09-22-2010Leg restraints dangle from the injection table where the condemned prisoner is executed.
Photo: Michael Macor/The San Francisco Chronicle/AP

Injection Table, San Quentin State Prison, San Quentin, California, 2010

Photo: Lucinda Devlin/Galerie m Bochum

Gas Chamber, Arizona State Prison, Florence, Arizona, 1992

Arizona now uses lethal injection. Inmates sentenced before November 1992 have a choice between death by lethal injection or gas. 

Wilford Berry Jr., dubbed "The Volunteer" by prosecutors, has been ruled competent by the Ohio Supreme Court to waive his final appeals and be executed on March 3, 1998 in the Ohio death chamber at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, Ohio, shown in this 1997 photo. Berry was convicted of the murder of his former boss.  (AP Photo/Gary Gardiner, File)
Photo: Gary Gardiner/AP

Death Chamber, Southern Ohio Correctional Facility, Lucasville, Ohio, 1997

All information regarding states' death penalty procedures was gathered from the Death Penalty Information Center. Death row populations were verified with available data from states' Department of Corrections websites.

*This post incorrectly stated that the Parchman State Penitentiary was located in Missouri. It is in Mississippi.