The preferred past tense and past participle in English is hanged.
For lack of a better term, hanging has also been used to describe a method of suicide in which a person applies a ligature to the neck and brings about unconsciousness and then death, by means of partial suspension or partial weight-bearing on the ligature. This method has been most often used in prisons or other institutions, where full suspension support is difficult to devise. The earliest known use in this sense was in A.D. 1300.
Prior to 1892, the drop was between four and ten feet (about one to three meters), depending on the weight of the body, and was calculated to deliver a force of 1,260 lbf (5,600 newtons or 572 kgf), which fractured the neck at either the 2nd and 3rd or 4th and 5th cervical vertebrae. However, this force resulted in some decapitations, such as the famous case of "Black Jack" Tom Ketchum in New Mexico Territory in 1901. Between 1892 and 1913, the length of the drop was shortened to avoid decapitation. After 1913, other factors were also taken into account, and the force delivered was reduced to about 1,000 lbf (4,400 N or 450 kgf). The decapitation of a female inmate during a botched hanging in 1930 led the state of Arizona to switch to the gas chamber as its primary execution method, on the grounds that it was believed more humane. One of the more recent decapitations as a result of the long drop occurred when Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti was hanged in Iraq in 2007.
In Canada, hanging is the most common method of suicide., and in the U.S., hanging is the second most common method, after firearms. In Great Britain, where firearms are less easily available, as of 2001 hanging was the most common method among men and the second-most commonplace among women (after poisoning).
A hanging may induce one or more of the following medical conditions:
The cause of death in hanging depends on the conditions related to the event. When the body is released from a relatively high position, death is usually caused by severing the spinal cord between C1 and C2, which may be functional decapitation. High cervical fracture frequently occurs in judicial hangings, and in fact the C1-C2 fracture has been called the "hangman's fracture" in medicine, even when it occurs in other circumstances. Usually, accidental C1-C2 fracture victims do not immediately become unconscious; instead death occurs after some minutes. Another process that has been suggested is carotid sinus reflex death. By this theory, the mechanical stimulation of the carotid sinus in the neck brings on terminal cardiac arrest.
In the absence of fracture and dislocation, occlusion of blood vessels becomes the major cause of death, rather than asphyxiation. Obstruction of venous drainage of the brain via occlusion of the internal jugular veins leads to cerebral edema and then cerebral ischemia. The face will typically become engorged and cyanotic (turned blue through lack of oxygen). There will be the classic sign of strangulation—petechiae—little blood marks on the face and in the eyes from burst blood capillaries. The tongue may protrude.
Compromise of the cerebral blood flow may occur by obstruction of the carotid arteries, even though their obstruction requires far more force than the obstruction of jugular veins, since they are seated deeper and they contain blood in much higher pressure compared to the jugular veins. Only 31 newtons (7 lbf or 3.2 kgf) of force may be enough to constrict the carotid arteries to the point of rapid unconsciousness. Where death has occurred through carotid artery obstruction or cervical fracture, the face will typically be pale in color and not show petechiae. Many reports and pictures exist of actual short-drop hangings that seem to show that the person died quickly, while others indicate a slow and agonizing death by strangulation.
When cerebral circulation is severely compromised by any mechanism, arterial or venous, death occurs over four or more minutes from cerebral hypoxia, although the heart may continue to beat for some period after the brain can no longer be resuscitated. The time of death in such cases is a matter of convention. In judicial hangings, death is pronounced at cardiac arrest, which may occur at times from several minutes up to 15 minutes or longer after hanging. During suspension, once the prisoner has lapsed into unconsciousness, rippling movements of the body and limbs may occur for some time which are usually attributed to nervous and muscular reflexes. In Britain, it was normal to leave the body suspended for an hour to ensure death.
After death, the body typically shows marks of suspension: bruising and rope marks on the neck. Moreover, sphincters will relax spontaneously and urine and feces will be evacuated. Forensic experts may often be able to tell if hanging is suicide or homicide, as each leaves a distinctive ligature mark. One of the hints they use is the hyoid bone. If broken, it often means the person has been murdered by manual choking. Also, there have been cases of autoerotic asphyxiation leading to death. Children have accidentally died playing the choking game.
The last execution was in 1989, and the death penalty was abolished for all crimes in 1998.
Capital punishment was abolished for all crimes in 1990.
A recent case of capital punishment by hanging is that of Dhananjoy Chatterjee, who was convicted of the 1990 murder and rape of a 14 year old girl in Kolkata in India. The manner in which the crime was committed (the accused bludgeoned the victim with a blunt object and raped her as she was slowly dying) was considered brutal enough by the supreme court to warrant the death penalty. An appeal for clemency was made to the president of India but was turned down. Chatterjee was executed on August 14, 2004, in the first execution in India since 1995.
As one of several means of capital punishment in Iran, hangings are carried out by using an automotive telescoping crane to hoist the condemned aloft. The death penalty is used for many offenses and is the only punishment for rape, murder and child molestation, with all hangings taking place in public.
On July 19, 2005, two boys, Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni, ages 15 and 17 respectively, who had been convicted of the rape of a 13-year-old boy, were publicly hanged at Edalat (Justice) Square in Mashhad, on charges of homosexuality and rape. On August 15, 2004, a 16-year-old girl, Atefeh Sahaaleh (a.k.a. Ateqeh Rajabi), was executed for having committed "acts incompatible with chastity".
In September 2005, three murderers were the first people to be executed since the restoration. Then on March 9 2006, an official of Iraq's Supreme Judicial Council confirmed that Iraqi authorities had executed the first insurgents by hanging.
Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death by hanging for crimes against humanity on November 5, 2006, and was executed on December 30, 2006 at approximately 6:00 a.m. local time. During the drop, there was an audible crack indicating that his neck was broken, a successful example of a long drop hanging.
By contrast, Barzan Ibrahim, the head of the Mukhabarat, Saddam's security agency, and Awad Hamed al-Bandar, former chief judge, were executed on January 15, 2007, also by the long drop method, but Barzan was decapitated by the rope at the end of his fall indicating that the drop was too long.
Also, former vice-president Taha Yassin Ramadan had been sentenced to life in prison on November 5, 2006, but the sentence was changed to death by hanging on February 12, 2007. He was the fourth and final man to be executed for the 1982 crimes against humanity on March 20, 2007. This time, the execution went smoothly and without obvious mistake or problem.
At the Anfal genocide trial, Saddam's cousin Ali Hassan al-Majid (aka Chemical Ali), former defense minister Sultan Hashim Ahmed al-Tay, and former deputy Hussein Rashid Mohammed were sentenced to hang for their role in the Al-Anfal Campaign against the Kurds on June 24, 2007.
Hanging is the traditional way of capital punishment in Malaysia.
More than 3,000 people are on the Pakistan's death row, where hanging is the most common form of execution.
The death penalty was officially outlawed shortly after the revolution of 1917, but the government later permitted the use of the penalty for soldiers on the front. In the next several decades, the death penalty was alternatively permitted and prohibited, but during Stalin's reign, the death penalty was used in many cases. The last persons to be sentenced to death by hanging were Andrey Vlasov and 11 other officers of his army on August 1, 1946. Numerous executions from that date forward were carried out by gunshot, which became the standard method of capital punishment in the Soviet Union.
In the Russian Federation the death penalty is still technically allowed but is currently under a moratorium.
A 25-year old Vietnamese-Australian, Nguyen Tuong Van, was hanged on December 2, 2005, after being convicted of drug trafficking in 2002. Numerous efforts from both the Australian government, Queen's Counsels and petitions from organizations such as Amnesty International failed to persuade Singapore to rescind its decision.
As a form of judicial execution in England, hanging is thought to date from the Saxon period, approximately around 400. Records of the names of British hangmen begin with Thomas de Warblynton in the 1360s; complete records extend from the 1500s to the last hangmen, Robert Leslie Stewart and Harry Allen, who conducted the last British executions in 1964.
In 1965, Parliament passed the "Murder (Abolition of Death Penalty) Act" abolishing capital punishment for murder. And with the passage of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 the death penalty was officially abolished for all crimes in both civilian and military cases. Following its complete abolition, the gallows were removed from Wandsworth prison, where they remained in full working order until that year.
The last woman to be hanged was Ruth Ellis on July 13 1955 by Albert Pierrepoint who was a prominent hangman in the 20th century in England. The last hanging in Great Britain happened in 1964, when Peter Anthony Allen, at Walton Prison in Liverpool, and Gwynne Owen Evans, at Strangeways Prison in Manchester were executed for the murder of John Alan West.
At present, capital punishment varies from state to state; it is outlawed in some states but commonly used in others. However, the death penalty under federal law is applicable in every state. Other forms of capital punishment have largely been replaced by lethal injection in the U.S., where the condemned may choose this as an option. Only lethal injection is used at the federal level and only the states of Washington and New Hampshire still retain hanging as an option.
Laws in Delaware were changed in 1996 to specify lethal injection, except for those convicted prior to 1996, who were allowed to choose hanging. If a choice was not made, or the convict refused to choose injection, then hanging was the default method. This was the case in the 1996 execution of Billy Bailey, the most recent hanging in American history. Since the hanging of Bailey, no Delaware prisoner has fit into this category, thus the practice has ended there de facto, and the gallows have been dismantled.
In New Hampshire, if it is found to be 'impractical' to carry out the execution by lethal injection, then the condemned will be hanged, and in Washington the condemned still have an outright choice between hanging and lethal injection.
Clinton Duffy, who served as Warden of San Quentin Prison in California, presided over ninety executions. He began to oppose the death penalty and after his retirement he wrote a memoir entitled Eighty-eight Men and Two Women in support of the crusade to abolish the death penalty. The book documents several hangings gone wrong and describes how they led his predecessor, Warden James B. Holoran, to persuade the California Legislature to replace hanging with the gas chamber.