Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sightseeing in DeRidder: The Hanging Jail

The Hanging Jail is tops on DeRidder's must-see list.

It's a gothic structure built with shallow arches, dormer windows, and central tower. Inside, a spiral staircase leads up to three floors of jail cells. Condemned persons were hanged by an apparatus at the top of the spiral staircase.

Most of the prisoners could easily watch the hanging from the "comfort" of their cells. (I put that in quotes, but actually, each cell had a toilet, shower AND a window--an unusual degree of luxury at that time.) Rumor has it that passersby could see prisoners waving to them through the bars on the windows.

In 1928, there was a famous double execution in the jail. On a Saturday night, August 26th, Joe Genna and Molton Brasseaux got in J.J Brevelle's cab and asked him to take them to the Joe Miller place on Three Pine Church Road.

On the way, they stopped for some moonshine whisky. It was then that Genna and Brasseaux made their move, first beating Brevelle and then stabbing him with a screwdriver. They took the money from his pockets and tossed his body off a bridge.

Well, long story short, they were caught, put in DeRidder's jail, and hanged. Genna tried to poison himself the night before, to avoid the gallows. But he'd eaten such a big pre-execution dinner (chicken) that he ended up throwing up the chicken and the poison. The executioners also thoughtfully pumped his stomach, to make sure he made it to the big day.

Both men were hung on March 9, 1928--Genna first.


Paul said...

It's an awfully nice looking building, considering what it was used for.

mr_msimmons said...

Have you ever seen the inside of the jail? At the bottom of my blog there is a picture video of the inside of the jail. It's quite freaky!