The Electric Chair at Sing Sing
On June 4, 1888, NY Gov. Daniel B. Hill signed a bill authorizing the use of the electric chair. Electrocution was considered a more humane method of execution than hanging. Thus "the chair" replaced "the rope."
The hangings had been carried out in the respective counties with relevant jurisdiction in the particular cases. But given the specialized nature of the equipment involved in electrocution, executions by electricity were carried out only at state prisons: first at three -- Auburn, Sing Sing and Dannemora -- but later only at Sing Sing.
William Kemmler, the drunken axe-murder of his girlfriend, was the first to be executed by electrocution in NYS. That was August 6 1890 at Auburn. There were 54 other electrocutions at Auburn prison, the last taking palce May 1, 1916 -- Charles Sprague.
Sing Sing's chair was first put to use on July 7, 1891, when it executed 5 men for unconnected murders -- first Harris Alonzo Smiler, and then Shibaya Jugiro, James Slocum, Joseph Wood, and Martin Loppy. Its last execution -- also NYS' last execution -- took place August 15, 1963: Eddie Lee Mays. A total 614 men and women were executed by electric chair at Sing Sing.
Louis Capone, Lepke Buchalter, Mendy Weiss died in the electric chair in Sing Sing Prison on the night of Saturday, 4 March 1944. Harry Strauss, Frank Abbandando, and Harry Maione were also electrocuted in Sing Sing.