Thursday, June 16, 2016

Caolina (for Carolina)

George Stinney was executed by electric chair on this (awfully dark) day in 1944. A native of Alcolu, South Carolina, Stinney was only 14 years old when he was convicted and put to death for the murder of two young white girls. (He and his sister Aime were thought to have been the last people to have seen the girls, riding their bikes and searching for "maypops"). George looks like a sad and scared kid in these mugshots, but an all-white jury saw murderous intent in those big brown eyes and took all of ten minutes to arrive at a verdict. The trial itself lasted two and a half hours and admitted no blacks among the 1,000+ spectators. The only evidence brought against him was his (almost certainly coerced) confession. There is no transcript of the trial and no written record of the "confession." His lawyer neglected to call witnesses, declined to cross-exam any, and didn't reserve the right to appeal. That, perhaps, is the only cold comfort to be found in this shameful sham in which black lives definitely didn't matter. Because George Stinney so clearly received what is called "ineffective assistance of counsel" (it's hard to imagine a better example), a judge in 2014 vacated his conviction, believing the confession had probably been forced; in any case, he had been denied his Sixth Amendment right to due process. He's with the Lord now, as a friend of mine is fond of saying, but it would have been nice if he'd been allowed to grow up first. And there seems to have been no justice, no peace for those two little Carolina girls either. RIP, George, Betty, and Mary. Today's typo was discovered seven times in OhioLINK, and 123 times in WorldCat.

(George Stinney's mugshot, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

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