On June 16th, 1944, the state of South Carolina executed George Stinney, Jr. He was fourteen years, six months, and five days old, the youngest person ever executed in the United States in the 20th Century.
Stinney, who was black, was convicted of murdering two white girls, Betty June Binnicker, age 11, and Mary Emma Thames, age 8, with a railroad spike. The trial lasted three hours, and the all-white jury deliberated for 10 minutes before sentencing George Stinney to death in the electric chair.
At Stinney’s execution six weeks later, the guards had difficulty strapping him to the electric chair (he was 5′ 1″ and weighed just over 90 pounds). During the electrocution, the jolt shook the adult-sized mask from his head.
On the sixtieth anniversary of his electrocution, one of the last surviving members of George Stinney’s family as well as the only living sibling of Betty June Binnicker recall the event.
George Stinney’s Prison Records (PDF, 435KB)
Recorded in Passaic, NJ. Premiered June 30, 2004, on Day to Day.
This documentary comes from Sound Portraits Productions, a mission-driven independent production company that was created by Dave Isay in 1994. Sound Portraits was the predecessor to StoryCorps and was dedicated to telling stories that brought neglected American voices to a national audience.