George Stinney and the Electric Chair

Imagine this: A boy, around the age of 14 sitting in an electric chair, awaiting the inevitable. This is the story of George Stinney, the youngest person to be killed by the electric chair. 

On March 23 1944, the bodies of Betty Binnicker and Mary Thames were found in a ditch in Alcolu, North Carolina. In the town of Alcolu, there was segregation everywhere, schools, churches, the houses were even separated by train tracks, so when two white girls were found in the black community, a search was conducted. The girls were killed by blunt-force trauma to their heads, the last time they were seen was going past the Stinney house. The sheriff testified that George admitted to the murder of the girls, however there was no written or signed papers confirming that. George and his brother were arrested, but they let his brother go and kept George in custody, forbidding visits until after his trial and conviction. 

Not only did Stinney not have much support while jailed for 81 days, he also was questioned without any representation, and he was also jailed 50 miles away in Columbia for fear of lynching. During the trial, the prosecution brought up 3 witnesses, while George’s defense brought no witnesses, nor did they properly cross-examine or help his case. The trial lasted around 2 - 2.5 hours. Stinney was sentenced to Death Row by electric chair. He was executed on June 16, 1944. Because of his age and height, rumors say that he had to sit on a bible and a few other books in order to sit in the chair right. As he was electrocuted, the adult-sized mask fell off multiple times, and they had to restart the shocks. 

Seventy years later, in 2014, the case reopened to exonerate George from his charges.The argument for his innocence was that his trial was unconstitutional and new evidence and suspects had been found. After the two day hearing, it was concluded that George had his rights taken away during trials and that it was an injustice to him. He was then vacated from the charges set on him. 

Since the 1890s when it was invented, there have been 4,300 deaths by electric chair. Currently 27 states in the US have the death penalty, and out of those 8 have the electric chair as a method. Many states that do not use the electric chair as a method for the execution reason that it is unconstitutional and “cruel and unusual punishment”.  Iowa has not had the death penalty  as of 1965, when a bill signed by Governor Harold Hughes abolished it. 

I believe that this story is horrible, and I would not want to be in his position. Personally, I think that we should not continue with the death penalty, as new evidence is found all the time. Imagine a convict being sentenced and executed, and after that, new evidence is found and they are no longer guilty - how do you fix that situation?




What do you think of this story? 

Would you be scared if you were George Stinney?

Do you think the US should continue with the death penalty?

If you said yes, do you think that we should continue with the electric chair as a method?


Source 1   Source 2 

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  • Excellent topic choice and super job MaryRuth!

  • I believe that this is a very sad story because of how young George was and because he was not treated very good. I feel that the death penalty is not neccesary and shouldn't be continued. I believe that if we did continue the death penalty that at least the electric chair should be gotten rid of.

  • I think that is a very sad story because of the way George was treated. If this ever happened to me I would be terrified and don't think I would be able to make it through the electric chair. I think this punishment is harsh, and the US should get rid of the death penalty.

  • I think that it is horrible that he was killed so young. I think if I was George Kinney I would be terrified because I was so young and I wouldn't be able to live the rest of my life. I think that they should continue with the death penalty but I think that there are more effective ways to kill someone, like a leathal injection which is painless and kills them quick.

    • I agree, there are better ways to use the death penalty, electric chairs just seem cruel and not necessary anymore. 

  • I would be absolutely terrified if I was George Stinney. I couldn't imagine being sentenced to death at that age for a crime he never commited. I think that the US should not ever continue with the death penalty nor should have ever taken place.

  • This situation is very sad, and I'm sure was very miserable for many people. It's hard to say wether or not I would agree with any situations of the dealth penalty. In some cases, people deserve harsh punishments, but dealth is insane. 

    • I agree, it was a terrible circumstance and it is always sad for the family members.  There is always a debate on if we should keep it or abolish it, that is why it is each state's decision to make. 

  • I found this story very sad and tragic. I would be scared to death if I was in George Stinney's position because being put to death at such a young age is insane. I think the US should stop using the death penalty because I think its just unnecessary.

    • I agree with you, this story is really sad. I agree, not much good happens with the death penalty, it is just another form of punishment. 

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