Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Double Charge!

The use of the Electric Chair in the USA was seen as the answer to dispatching condemned people successfully, rather than have to rely on a prisoner convulsing on the end of a rope or being decapitated by too long a drop.  The chair was first used in 1890 and the unlucky recipient was William Kemmler, who had to receive two charges of electricity.  The second ran for four minutes and his body was so hot he had to left for some hours for the body to cool down.  More mishaps happened until it was generally regarded as being right.  Charles Becker, notoriously corrupt New York cop, had to receive THREE jolts before he died!  Then in 1984, this cropped up yet again.

    The condemned man was Alpha Otis Stephens, sentenced to die in 1974.  He murdered a building contractor execution style.  In Jackson, Georgia, in December 1984, he was strapped in the chair and declining a last statement, he received a two minute burst of 2000 volts.  The doctors waited for a number of minutes before they were allowed to step into the death chamber.  Upon inspection, Stephens was found to be still breathing.  Jail Warden Ralph Kemp declared that the execution was not complete and another charge of electricity should be used. He received 2000 volts again for two minutes.  This time he was pronounced dead.  Did Stephens receive the full voltage for two minutes, or was there a problem with the chair?  Prison officials said they were satisfied it worked properly, but the mystery is how he survived for ten minutes after such a massive jolt to his body.  Stranger things have happened.