To a condemned man it cannot make any great difference whether he is gassed or shot, hanged or electrocuted. The end is the same. But it does make a difference to the persons called upon to carry out a public execution. They want, for their own sakes, to get the work done in the quickest, surest, least unpleasant way possible. That, we believe, is why Warden Vernon L. Peppersack, of the Maryland Penitentiary, told legislators at Annapolis yesterday he preferred gas to hanging in the "miserable job" of putting men to death.
The executioner is only the agent of society in this matter. What he does, he does in the name of the people of Maryland. The method he employs is a reflection on all of us. We are doing the hanging, gassing, shooting or electrocuting and for our own sakes want to get the job over as quickly, surely as possible and with the fewest objectionable features. Hence, the superintendent of Maryland prisons, Mr. Harold E. Donnell, told legislators that there was wider "public acceptance" of the gas chamber in Maryland than of other forms of capital punishment.
As long as we have to put prisoners to death, we owe it to our own standards of civilized conduct to use the quicker, quieter gas chamber method. And the time to change is while the Penitentiary is undergoing alterations, which for a small sum could include a gas chamber.
-- Editorial in The Evening Sun, Feb. 3, 1955