South Carolina may bring back electric chair, once used to execute a 14-year-old boy later exonerated

George Stinney Jr.’s mug shot when he was arrested in 1944. The 5-foot-1, 90-pound boy was accused of brutally murdering two White girls. (Wikimedia Commons/State of South Carolina)

By Lindsey Bever and Gillian Brockell May 8, 2021 at 8:00 a.m. EDT

Barely 5 feet tall and not yet 100 pounds, George Stinney Jr. sat so small in the electric chair that the straps were too big to contain him. The 14-year-old had to sit on books for his head to reach the headpiece. And when the switch was flipped, the convulsions knocked down the large mask, exposing his tearful face to the crowd. That was June 16, 1944. Seventy years after his execution by electric chair, George was exonerated of the crime that ended his brief life. Read more HERE.

The South Carolina House voted Wednesday to add a firing squad to the state’s execution methods amid a lack of lethal-injection drugs — a measure meant to jump-start executions in a state that once had one of the busiest death chambers in the nation. The bill, approved by a 66-43 vote, will require condemned inmates to choose either being shot or electrocuted if lethal injection drugs aren’t available. The state is one of only nine to still use the electric chair and will become only the fourth to allow a firing squad.

The debate in South Carolina comes as other states move away from the death penalty, which the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated in 1976. Last month, Virginia lawmakers voted in favor of abolishing the punishment, making the state — which had executed the second-most inmates after Texas — the first Southern state to eliminate capital punishment.

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