Friday, October 7, 2011

Activists Seek to Clear Name of 14-year-old Executed in 1944

Activists are seeking to clear the name of seventh grader George Stinney Jr, one of the youngest people ever to receive the death penalty in America, according to the online magazine Suite 101. In 1944, George Junius Stinney Jr was just fourteen years old, when he became the youngest person ever sent to the electric chair.

George was allowed no legal counsel during questioning. His parents were not only refused access to him, after he was arrested, but were advised to leave South Carolina. His confession was not written down, but took place in a locked room with just the child and police officers present.

A tax commissioner stood in as George's lawyer; and he did not defend him nor cross-examine eye-witnesses. He merely asked for the boy's age to be taken into account when sentencing. The whole trial lasted just three hours, with the jury taking only ten minutes to declare him guilty, according to Suite 101.
Afterwards, George's lawyer did not file for an appeal. He didn't even advise the child that he could do so. Eighty days after the murder of two girls, George Stinney Jr was executed by the state's electric chair.

According to Suite 101, Joy James described George's execution, in States of Confinement: Policing, Detection and Prisons (MacMillan, 2000). After establishing that George was small for his age, she wrote, 'Stinney was so slight that the guards had difficulty strapping him into the chair and attaching electrodes to his leg. A mask was placed over his face, but after the first jolt of 2,400 volts, the mask slipped off, revealing his wide-open, tearful eyes and saliva coming from his mouth. The next two surges of electricity ended his young life.'

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