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.
Lethal Injection Gurney, Florida State Prison, Raiford, Florida, undated
Execution Chamber, Idaho Maximum Security Institution, Boise, Idaho, 2011
Execution Chamber, Indiana State Prison, Michigan City, Indiana, 1995
Electric Chair, Greensville Correctional Facility, Jarratt, Virginia, 1991
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.
Lethal Injection Chamber, Territorial Correctional Facility, Canon City, Colorado, 1991
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.
Witness Room, Broad River Correctional Facility, Columbia, South Carolina, 1991
Execution Chamber, Oklahoma State Penitentiary, McAlester, Oklahoma, 1996
Gas Chamber, Central Prison, Raleigh, North Carolina, 1991
North Carolina now uses lethal injection as its sole method of execution.
Gallows, Department of Corrections, Smyrna, Delaware, 1991
Delaware tore down its gallows in 2003. Executions are now performed through lethal injection.
Lethal Injection Chamber, South Dakota State Penitentiary, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, 2012
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.
Execution Chamber, Kentucky State Penitentiary, Eddyville, Kentucky, 2004
Execution Chamber, Riverbend Maximum Security Institute, Nashville, Tennessee, 1999
Execution Chamber, Oregon State Penitentiary, Salem, Oregon, 1997
Lethal Injection Chamber From Family Witness Room, Parchman State Penitentiary, Parchman, Mississippi, 1998
Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison, Jackson, Georgia, 2001
State Correctional Institute Rockview, Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, 2008
Execution Chamber, Montana State Prison, Deer Lodge, Montana, 1998
Lethal Injection Chamber, Texas State Prison, Huntsville, Texas, 1992
Lethal Injection Chamber From Witness Room, Cummins Unit, Grady, Arkansas, 1991
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.
Lethal Injection Chamber, Louisiana State Prison, Angola, Louisiana, 1992
Injection Table, San Quentin State Prison, San Quentin, California, 2010
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.
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.