Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The gruesome history of the guillotine

Contrary to myth, Dr. Joseph-Ignace Guillotin did not invent the decapitation instrument that bears his name. Decapitation machines were used long before he was born.

Slideshow: Last Meals Before Execution

Death row inmates are allowed a special last meal request before execution. Here’s what some of them ordered.

Help Wanted: Hangman in Sri Lanka

The prisons department of Sri Lanka is seeking a dynamic individual to fill the position of Hangman. It seems that out of 176 applicants for the position last year, the top-two, who were hired, just stopped showing up for work, and the last guy took one look at the gallows and got so upset he quit.

Slideshow: Women executed in America

Though it’s unusual for a woman to be sentenced to death and even more unusual for execution to be carried out on a woman, it does happen. Fifteen women who have been sentenced to death and executed in the United States, from 1955 to 2010.

Slideshow: Cruel & unusual punishment

Ten of the most brutal methods of execution and torture used throughout history.

VIDEO: Death by Electric Chair Explained

For those of you who have wondered how the more modern electric chair works and how it is used to execute prisoners. While watching this video bear in mind that though lethal injection has been the default method of execution in Virginia since 1994, inmates may still opt for execution via the electric chair — and some do.

How Catherine Cassler Escaped the Executioner — Twice

People who knew the portly and bespectacled Catherine Cassler were unlikely to guess that this woman, who seemed so ordinary, would twice live in the shadow of execution – and twice escape with her life.

SPOTLIGHT: The Infamous Candyman of Texas

Halloween can be a great time for families to dress up in costumes, enjoy each other’s company and eat some sweets. For Houston-area man Ronald Clark O’Bryan, it was the perfect opportunity to kill his son for insurance money.

When a Condemned Criminal Chooses His Own Death

There aren’t many decisions that a death row inmate can make. In some cases, however, a condemned criminal is allowed to make the ultimate choice: how he will die.

VIDEO: Chinese Talk Show Interviews Prisoners Before Execution

In China, a person can be sentenced to death for crimes ranging from theft, to drug offenses, to murder. In a show that aired weekly on the Henan Legal Channel for six years, host Ding Yu conducted interviews with condemned criminals preparing to be executed for murder. Below is a segment from BBC’s This World focusing on the Chinese show, titled simply Interviews Before Execution.

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