Macabre (clockwise from top left): Workers take a break from constructing Nevada's first gas chamber (NSP-0210-2); the door to the gas chamber (NSP-0033); a noose; the scaffold erected for the execution of husband and wife murderers, Josiah and Elizabeth Potts (courtesy of the Nevada Historical Society, Elko-469).
The first recorded execution in the area that is now Nevada was the hanging of John Carr for murdering Bernhard Cherry of Carson City on November 30, 1860 and the first record execution in the Nevada Territory was the hanging of Allen Milstead outside Dayton for killing Lyon County Commissioner T. Varney at Ragtown. These were the first of 60 executions from 1860 to the present. Since 1976, 12 people have been executed by the state. As of May 12, 2013 there were 83 people on death row.
Elizabeth Potts, who was hanged in 1890, was the only woman legally executed in the state.
Hanging was the method prescribed by law from 1860 to 1921. The venue of executions moved from the counties to Nevada State Prison in 1903. In response to Mormon preferences, the Nevada State Legislature passed a statute in 1910 that became effective in January 1911, allowing condemned prisoners to choose between execution by shooting or hanging. On May 14, 1913, Andriza Mircovich became the only inmate in Nevada to be executed by shooting. After the warden of Nevada State Prison was unable to find five men to form a firing squad, a shooting machine was built to carry out Mircovich's execution.
A law in 1921 replaced hanging with the gas chamber, which was used from the 1924 execution of Gee Jon to the 1979 execution of Jesse Bishop, both at Nevada State Prison. Today, lethal injection is the only legal form of execution permitted in Nevada.
Files on Nevada inmates are available in the Archives. Some information is restricted.