The Control Equipment such as Voltage Regulators, Auto Transformers, Oil Circuit Breakers, Panel Board, etc., was designed by and supplied by General Electric Company. Prior to the Institution going to Alternating Current, a Consulting Engineer, Mr. G.M. Ogle, aided the design of the Electric System. The design for the present system using the Institution supply of Alternating Current was by a Mr. H.M. Jalonack in 1931, an engineer employed by General Electric. –J.J. Shanahan, chief engineer, April 10, 1942, on the electric chair, Sing Sing Prison, Ossining, New York, quoted in Condemned
The “living body” was the name given a condemned prisoner by authorities at the Sing Sing death house. “It” was measured, numbered, photographed, accounted for by age, crime, personal claims as to the crime (innocent, etc.), trial judge, sentencing date, receiving date and, ultimately, date of execution.
Sometimes this curriculum mortis included as well its accomplices, next of kin, marital status, habits, rap sheet, education and, almost always, the occupation at which it might also have been considered a “living body,” with the difference that, as a worker, it would have been measured in terms of its productive value.
Most all the men represented in Scott Christianson’s excavation of Sing Sing’s long-sealed archive of the dead, 1891-1963, have by way of identification only their conviction and their former status as “laborer,” “stamper,” “laundry worker,” “machinist,” “button maker,” “button-hole maker,” “waiter,” “messenger boy”–age, 17; education, fifth grade; crime, strangulation; claims, innocence; execution, 1-9-56–“counterman,” “truck driver,” “handyman,” “transient,” “unemployed.” The only representatives from outside the conventional working class are Louis “Lepke” Buchalter and his lieutenants in Murder, Inc., and Julius Rosenberg. The only women represented are a “housewife, rooming house” and the notorious: Martha Jule Beck (a k a the “Miss Lonely Hearts Killer”), Ruth Brown Snyder (adulteress/spouse killer and subject of the only known photograph of an electrocution) and Ethel Rosenberg.
As routine, the administrators of the death house filed reports from guards and from the Governor’s Lunacy Commission. They archived letters from the Bureau of Prisons and from the prisoners’ advocates, enemies and loved ones. They authenticated the prisoners’ papers–“this is to certify that the attached marriage certificate submitted in the above case has been examined under the office detectoscope and appears to be without alteration”–and recorded their last meal. They sent out invitations to witnesses and filed the replies. They noted a clergyman’s administration of the sacraments. They divided the labor:
Assignments for executions scheduled for tonight–August 12, 1954
Lt. Toploski – leg electrode
Sgt. Tautenham – left side
Sgt. Werber – right side
Sgt. Goldfarb – Legs (ankle straps)
Sgt. Taylor – Dinner
P.K. Kelley – Usual