Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Hanging for Dummies, Courtesy of CNN

Did you know there is a right and wrong way to hang a man? Well, you probably do now thanks to this head-popping story. But a day too late for the people losing their heads in Iraq, CNN has posted "How Hanging is Supposed to Work" for their viewers. Apparently, the head isn't supposed to come off.

Here's the facts:

  • Hanging is the suspension of a person by a cord wrapped around the neck, causing death. Throughout history it has been used as a form of capital punishment in various forms. The method used in Iraq is modeled on the 19th-century method of execution used in Britain, which formed the Iraqi state after World War I.
  • Four types of drop have been used in hanging: the short drop, suspension, standard and long drop. In all but the last, subjects can remain conscious for minutes and eventually die of strangulation and/or loss of blood to the brain.
  • The 19th-century long drop through a trap door is intended to be more humane, generating enough force from the tightening of the rope and the twisting of the noose knot under the jaw to break the neck. A calculation is made based on the convict's weight, height and build of the drop needed to break the neck. The distance is typically 1.5-2.5 metres (5-9 feet).
  • When the neck breaks and severs the spine, the subject immediately loses consciousness. Brain death follows in minutes. But if the drop is too short, the subject can be strangled. If it is too long, the subject can be decapitated.

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