Future of Virginia’s 113-year-old electric chair and lethal injection gurney in limbo | State and Regional News

According to newspaper history, “The scene was one of the most astonishing ones imaginable, and revealed a level of morbidity that is difficult to understand.”

This 1991 photo shows the Virginia electric chair moved from the old, now demolished Richmond State Prison to the Greensville, Virginia prison facility.

The Richmond Times Dispatch File

Electric chairs have played a prominent role in American popular culture.

Angels With Dirty Faces, a 1938 Oscar-winning film starring Jimmy Cagney as gangster Rocky Sullivan and Pat O’Brien as Father Jerry Connolly, showed Sullivan faking a cowardly death in the electric chair at the priest’s request . The Green Mile, a 1999 fantasy film, featured an electric chair in Louisiana.

As bizarre as anything in fiction, a real execution in Virginia was delayed by a lightning strike. Albert M. Jackson Jr., 24, who was sentenced to death for rape, was due to be executed on June 30, 1952. However, an electrical storm three days earlier destroyed the power line to the prison.

The warden reported that they could not get the materials needed for the repairs in time for Jackson’s scheduled execution. After repairs, Jackson was electrocuted on August 25, 1952.

The chair and its electrical system and controls have been repaired and / or upgraded several times over the course of its life.

By July 31, 1962, 54 years after Virginia bought the chair, 235 men and one woman – Virginia Christian, a 17-year-old black woman – had died in it.