The Electric Chair – ‘A Buffalo Man Invented It. A Buffalo Man Was The First Victim’
That was the headline in the Buffalo News in 1979.
Although, the first execution using the electric chair actually happened in 1890 to a Buffalo man named William Kemmler who killed a woman using a hatchet. Ironically, the person who invented to the electric chair was also from Western New York, Buffalo dentist Alfred P. Southwick.
On August 6, 1890, William Kemmler became the first person to be sent to the chair. After he was strapped in, a charge of approximately 700 volts was delivered for only 17 seconds before the current failed.
Although witnesses reported smelling burnt clothing and charred flesh, Kemmler was far from dead, and a second shock was prepared. The second charge was 1,030 volts and applied for about two minutes, whereupon smoke was observed coming from the head of Kemmler, who was clearly deceased. An autopsy showed that the electrode attached to his back had burned through to the spine.
In the early 60s it was declared unconstitutional and the electric chair was not used anymore as the death penalty in New York was illegal. George Pataki made it legal again in 1995 only to be overturned by the New York Court of Appeals, ruling it unconstitutional.
New York has executed over 1,100 people according to DeathPenaltyInfo.org.