Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Musical Interlude

Johnny Cash's cover of Nick Cave's The Mercy Seat.

I actually sat in the Florida electric chair on a school field trip to Raiford State Prison around 1978. It was the old chair, with the original equipment all still installed. We were told it had been made by inmates of native Florida live oak. The tour guide told us that to test the chair's electric leads, they were dropped into a 55-gallon oil drum full of salt water and the switch turned on, and if the water didn't boil instantly (tour guide snapped his fingers at this point) it wasn't working properly. We were told the chair worked on a 2-minute cycle of varying voltages: a short burst of high voltage followed by a longer period of lesser voltage, repeated several times over 2 minutes. The executioner worked in an alcove with a slit through which he could peer out at the condemned man (or woman, since the women's prison at Lowell, Florida, didn't have its own electric chair).

1 comment:

JohninMd(help?) said...

Sorry, gotta do it - Original, or extra-crispy? O:-). Here in the PDRM, before the needle, they used Gas. If, of course, you could get 'em to use anything......