In Stephen King's novel The Green Mile and its film adaptation one of the characters (Eduard Delacroix) is getting electrocuted. Before the execution one of the correction officers instead of wetting the sponge placed under electric chair's cap left it dry, turning Delacroix's execution into a torturous burning instead of usually "quick" and "effective" death.
Here is the explanation of this in IMDB FAQ:
What is the purpose of the wet sponge placed under the electrocution cap?
Water, particularly salt water, is a good conductor of electricity. Having the brine-soaked sponge causes the electricity to move in a more efficient line, thus killing the prisoner faster (comparable to a fast blow to the head with a large hammer). Without the sponge, the electricity would simply disperse over the body, meeting with a lot of resistance, causing the body to cook, and death would be much more agonizing, as seen during Del (Michael Jeter)'s execution (comparable to getting hit all over the body with a lot of small hammers).
Although the whole concept of electrocution is awkward and immensely cruel to me, it seems to me a strange thing that level of sponge wetting could change the whole process of electrocution.
So, my question is: Are there any researches about wet sponge contribution to the death of electrocuted inmate?
I would also appreciate:
- Examples of execution malfunctions proved to be caused by sponge wetting. Or burning of electrocuted person caused by other factors.
- Instructions for correction officers considering sponge wetting.
P.S. Google search bring me to the case of Pedro Medina. Some witnesses claim that they saw flames on Medina's head. But I couldn't find any evidence that flames were caused by Medina's body burning because of insufficiently wet sponge.