Gruesome Gertie

Gruesome Gertie was the nickname given by death row inmates to the Louisiana electric chair.

The 1940 Louisiana legislature had changed the method of execution, making execution by electrocution effective from June 1, 1941. Louisiana's electric chair did not have a permanent home at first, and was taken from parish to parish to perform the executions. The electrocution would usually be carried out in the courthouse or jail of the parish where the condemned inmate had been convicted. Eugene Johnson, a black man convicted of robbing and murdering Steven Bench, a white farmer who lived near Albany, was electrocuted in the Livingston Parish Jail on September 11, 1941.

In 1957, it was decided to build an execution chamber at the Louisiana State Penitentiary to carry out all executions in Louisiana. Notable executions in the chair were those of Elmo Patrick Sonnier (the inmate on which the film Dead Man Walking was based) and Willie Francis. Following new legislation enacted in 1991, the State of Louisiana opted for the use of lethal injection as the sole method of execution. The last person executed on Gruesome Gertie was Andrew Lee Jones, on July 22, 1991. During its fifty years, Gruesome Gertie had been used for a total of eighty-seven executions. It now sits at the Louisiana Prison Museum in Angola.

Gruesome Gertie appeared in the film Monster's Ball for the execution sequence. These scenes with the chair were filmed in the actual execution chamber at Louisiana State Penitentiary, where Gruesome Gertie had been used for real executions a decade earlier.

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