FRED LEUCHTER invites me to have a seat. No thanks, I say, declining to sit in the tall oak chair in which nearly 180 people have lost their lives.
The electric chair, sitting beside a pinball machine in Leuchter's basement, belongs to a southern state that has more than sixty inmates on Death Row. It is here because the 350-pound man who is to be electrocuted next can't sit comfortably in it. Also, the chair, which prison inmates built nearly ninety years ago, needs new wiring, a more comfortable backrest, a plastic drip pan, and other modern conveniences. Fred Leuchter is busy revamping the chair so that it can be put back into use in the months ahead.
Fred A. Leuchter, the president of Fred A. Leuchter Associates, Inc., in Boston, is the obvious person to call for electric-chair repair. Leuchter designs and builds state-of-the-art electrocution systems, and he runs the only training program in the country for execution technicians. Leuchter's company repairs, adapts, and installs electric chairs. As the nation's only commercial supplier of execution equipment, Fred A. Leuchter probably knows more about electric-chair technology than anyone else.
Leuchter's expertise is not limited to electrocution. A trained and accomplished engineer, he is versed in all types of execution equipment. He makes lethal-injection machines, gas chambers, and gallows, as well as electrocution systems. In its literature the company promises to meet "any requirement, you might have relative to execution equipment, training or protocol."