James Thompson portrait   Save
James Thompson portrait
Description: Before its closure, the Ohio Penitentiary housed the photographs of hundreds of prisoners who were condemned to death throughout the state’s history. These images were displayed within the east annex of the facility, where death row and the execution chamber were located. This portrait of 27-year-old James Thompson is one of them. Thompson actively planned and triggered the derailment of a “Norfolk and Western Railway” passenger train in Lawrence County, OH. The wreck resulted in the deaths of the train’s engineer and stoker. The caption at the bottom of the photograph reads: “No. 198, James Thompson of Lawrence County, Electrocuted April 25th, 1936, for the Murders of Engineer John Meyers and Fireman John Kemp during a Train Wreck.” In 1885, the Ohio Penitentiary became the site of all executions for prisoners on death row; formerly, executions had taken place in the county where the crime was committed. But in 1896, the Ohio General Assembly mandated that electrocution replace hanging as the state’s only form of capital punishment. Altogether there were 315 people who were electrocuted at the Ohio Penitentiary, their deaths occurring between 1897 and 1963. Thompson was the 198th prisoner in Ohio to be executed in this manner. View on Ohio Memory.
Image ID: AL08252
Subjects: Ohio History--State and Local Government--Law; Ohio History--State and Local Government--Corrections; Capital punishment--Ohio--History; Electrocution; Death row; Ohio Penitentiary (Columbus, Ohio); Railroad accidents
Places: James Thompson portrait