Year
1982
Month Day
December 07

First execution by lethal injection

The first execution by lethal injection takes place at the state penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas. Charles Brooks, Jr., convicted of murdering an auto mechanic, received an intravenous injection of sodium pentathol, the barbiturate that is known as a “truth serum” when administered in lesser doses.

Texas, the national leader in executions, adopted the lethal injection procedure as a more humane method of carrying out its death sentences, as opposed to the standard techniques of death by gas, electrocution, or hanging. During the next decade, 32 states, the federal government, and the U.S. military all took up the lethal injection method.

After several years of practical development, execution authorities adopted a lethal injection procedure in which three separate drugs are injected successively into the convict’s bloodstream. The first drug, sodium thiopental, a barbiturate, renders the prisoner unconscious, the next, pancuronium bromide, a muscle relaxant, paralyses the diaphragm and lungs, and the third, potassium chloride, causes cardiac arrest and ensures the prisoner’s death.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Pearl Harbor bombed

At 7:55 a.m. Hawaii time, a Japanese dive bomber bearing the red symbol of the Rising Sun of Japan on its wings appears out of the clouds above the island of Oahu. A swarm of 360 Japanese warplanes followed, descending on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor in a ferocious ...read more

Indonesia invades East Timor

Early in the morning, Indonesian forces launch a massive invasion of the former Portuguese half of the island of Timor, which lies near Australia in the Timor Sea. The Portuguese departed East Timor in August 1975, and Indonesian troops soon began infiltrating the border from ...read more

Shooter opens fire on Long Island Railroad train

Colin Ferguson opens fire on a Long Island Rail Road commuter train from New York City, killing 6 and injuring 19. Other train passengers stopped the perpetrator by tackling and holding him down. Ferguson later attributed the shooting spree to his deep-seated hatred of white ...read more

Battle of Prairie Grove, Arkansas

On December 7, 1862, northwestern Arkansas and southwestern Missouri are secured for the Union when a force commanded by General James G. Blunt holds off a force of Confederates under General Thomas Hindman at the Battle of Prairie Grove, Arkansas. Hindman assembled a force at ...read more