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 

Source 3   Source 4

You need to be a member of History 360 to add comments!

Join History 360

Replies are closed for this discussion.


    • I agree, many people would be scared if they were in his position. I also think hat regulating the charges put on people should be a priority.

  • I think this story is kind of crazy and also a little sad. I would for sure be scared if I were him, as I believe most people would. I think the death penalty is fine as long as it doesn't get out of hand and courts don't start using it too much.

  • I think it a very sad and devisating story. I would be scared if I was George Stinney and I think anyone would be to. I do not think the US should continue with the dealth penalty and I think being in prison for how ever many years is a way better option then ending someones  life. 

    • I would also be scared, and I cannot imagine what the family went through. I also don't think that the death penalty should stay because cases like these can prove that the  convicted might actually be innocent. 

  • I think this is a very unfortunate and extremely sad story that was handled completely wrong. As a 14 year old, I can only imagine how scared and vunerable George must have felt with limited control over the situation. I think the death penalty should not be sentenced lightly, and should also be at the discretion of the victim's family.

  • I think this is a very sad story. It makes me mad how this boy was senteced without any evidence, he did not deserve this and I hope people know this. I would be so scared but also mad, i would want justice. The US should continue this only to those who are horrible people, who are ACTUALLY evidenced on their case. 

    • I think that it is an important story that needs to be told. If I were George's family I would be outraged and want justice as well. 

  • I think its abosolutely hoffific what happened to this young boy. He did not deserve this fate and I don't know how any human could convict a kid of something he did not do. If I was him, I'd question everything. I'd think humans were monsters, and I wouldn't be able to understand why they would be doing this to me. I would cry and wonder if it would hurt and what it'll be like to be electricuted. I think the method shoul donly be used on those who have commited an extremely sick and vile crime. 

    • It truely is a horrible thing to happen to a child. As of 2005 juveniles cannot recieve the death penalty,but I couldn't imagine being in his position. 

  • I think that it's horrible that this had happened mainly because he was so young. I would be scared because I was convivted of a crime I didn't commite and I would be executed for it. I feel that in some situations the death penalty is okay but most of the time it seems very cruel.

This reply was deleted.
eXTReMe Tracker