History of Capital Punishment

The Rawlins Frontier Prison gas chamber in Wyoming, last used in 1965


Some of the available net resources on the history of capital punishment are collected here. If you think something interesting is missing, let me know and I'll check it out.


Historical information by state


Projet de loi portant abolition de la peine de mort et modifiant les peines criminelles (abolition bill, 1996, has become law since)


At the End of the Rope

Executions in Canada from Confederation to Abolition, i.e., 1867-1962

New Brunswick's last hanging (Joseph Pierre Richard, 1957)

The Last Man to Hang in Alberta (Robert Raymond Cook, 1960)

The Death Penalty in Canada: Twenty Years of Abolition

Removal of the Death Penalty (information on abolition bill, 1997, has become law since)


Abolition de la peine de mort (abolition law, 1981)

Association Affaire Ranucci (evidence on the possible innocence of Christian Ranucci, executed in 1976)

"En cinq secondes, tout était fini" (execution of Gunther Volz, 1967)

La peine de mort dans le monde (a simply superb site with special reference to France)


Executions in Spain from 1812-1975

United Kingdom

Abolition in the United Kingdom

Derek Bentley (executed for a murder he did not commit, 1953)

R. v. Bentley (decision quashing Bentley's conviction, 1998)

Bristol's Last Hanging in December 1963

Capital Punishment in the United Kingdom with list of executions, 1900-1964

The Law and Practice of Capital Punishment in the Isle of Man

David Pacey's Genealogy Web Site with list of executions, 1868-1964

A detailed list of Executions at Belfast Prison, 1854-1961

The Ultimate Punishment (a selection of historical documents from the Public Record Office)

United States of America

Capital Defense Weekly (law developments, death penalty news)

Execution Protocol for federal executions

Executions of Federal Prisoners Since 1927

Military Executions: A Working Bibliography of MHI Sources

The federal execution of Victor Feguer (1963)

The Trial of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg (1951)

Alabama: The Scottsboro Trials (1931-1937)

Alaska: Alaska & the Death Penalty including list of executions, 1902-1950

Arizona: Death Row and Executions including list of executions with case details, 1910-

Arkansas: Inmates on Death Row but no list of executions

California: Capital Punishment including detailed list of executions, 1992-

Colorado: Capital Punishment in Colorado

Delaware: History of Death Penalty in Delaware

Florida: Florida Department of Corrections Death Row Fact Sheet including list of executions, 1979-

Florida: Florida Executions List Up to 1972 and Furman v. Georgia

Florida: A Review of 23 Individuals Released from Death Row

Georgia: Modern Georgia Executions with case details, 1983-1999

Indiana: Clark County Prosecuting Attorney: The Death Penalty including list of executions, 1900- (May be unreliable. The person behind it is strongly pro-death penalty and he, for example, got such a simple detail as the number of Indiana death row inmates exonerated wrong when e-mailing me -- although he retracted later.)

Kentucky: The Last Public Execution in America (1936, this is an entire book about it)

Maryland: Capital Punishment in Maryland including list of executions, 1923-

Maryland: Report of the Governor's Commission on the Death Penalty including History of Maryland's 1978 Death Penalty Statute

Massachusetts: Facts About Death Penalty in Massachusetts including list of executions, 1901-1947

Massachusetts: "Success -- At Long Last": The Abolition of the Death Penalty in Massachusetts, 1928-1984

Mississippi: Death Row General Facts including list of executions, 1955-

Missouri: History of the Death Penalty in Missouri including list of executions, 1938-

Nevada: An Outline of Capital Punishment in Nevada including list of executions with case details, 1860-

New Mexico: Capital Punishment or Compassion: Executions in the State of New Mexico: The Death Penalty Since Territorial Days

New York: Condemned: Inside the Sing Sing Death House

North Carolina: The Death Penalty and the North Carolina Department of Correction including list of executions, 1910-

North Dakota: Capital crimes and criminals executed in northern Dakota Territory and North Dakota, 1885-1905

Oklahoma: Capital Punishment in Oklahoma including list of executions, 1915-

Oregon: Capital Punishment in Oregon including brief history, 1864-2000

Oregon: Lawful Executions in Oregon 1904-1974

South Dakota: Frequently Asked Questions: Capital Punishment including list of executions, 1877-

Tennessee: Capital Punishment in Tennessee

Texas: Texas Execution Information Center

Utah: Capital Punishment in Utah

Washington: History of the Death Penalty in Washington State including list of executions, 1904-

West Virginia: "Thy Brother's Blood": Capital Punishment in West Virginia

Wisconsin: John McCaffary and the Abolition of Capital Punishment in Wisconsin


Academic writings on capital punishment

Centre for Capital Punishment Studies (University of Westminster)

Death Penalty Institute of Oklahoma

Dwight Aarons: Can Inordinate Delay Between a Death Sentence and Execution Constitute Cruel and Unusual Punishment? (Seton Hall Law Review, 1998)

American Civil Liberties Union: How the Death Penalty Weakens U. S. International Interests (2004)

Victor Bailey: The Shadow of the Gallows: The Death Penalty and the British Labour Government, 1945-51 (Law and History Review, 2000)

John Brigham: Unusual Punishment: The Federal Death Penalty in the United States (2001)

Jonas L. Bulman: The Guillotine: A Look into the Machine Built for a Humanitarian Death (2002)

Marianne Deagle: Kansas' New Death Penalty Law: Will It Be Administered Fairly and Consistently? (Washburn Law Journal, 1996)

Laurence Design: Can the Deontologist Justify the Death Sentence? (1998)

James Fieser: Capital Punishment (Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 1997)

The Florida Senate Committee on Criminal Justice: A Monitor: Methods of Execution & Execution Protocols (1997)

John M. Friedberg: Cyanide, Consciousness and Pain: Is Execution by Lethal Gas Cruel? (1996)

Fred W. Friendly & Martha J. H. Elliot: Willie Francis' Two Trips to the Chair (1984)

Jack Greenberg: Against the American System of Capital Punishment (Harvard Law Review, 1986)

Karl Keys: The Shocking Truth About Death in the Electric Chair

Jeffrey L. Kirchmeier: Another Place Beyond Here: The Death Penalty Moratorium Movement in the United States (University of Colorado Law Review, 2002)

Jeffrey L. Kirchmeier: A Tear in the Eye of the Law: Mitigating Factors and the Progression Toward a Disease Theory of Criminal Justice (Oregon Law Review, 2004)

Jeffrey D. Kubik & John R. Moran: Lethal Elections: Gubernatorial Politics and the Timing of Executions (2002)

J. Robert Lilly: Dirty Details: Executing U. S. Soldiers During WWII (1995)

J. Robert Lilly & J. Michael Thomson: Executing U.S. Soldiers in England, WWII: The Power of Command Influence and Sexual Racism (1995)

David Niven: Southern Newspaper Coverage of Exonerations from Death Row (Journal of Criminal Justice and Popular Culture, 2004)

Stephen Reinhardt: The Anatomy of an Execution: Fairness vs. "Process" (New York University Law Review, 1999)

Austin Sarat: Recapturing the Spirit of Furman: The American Bar Association and the New Abolitionist Politics (Law and Contemporary Problems, 1998)

Austin Sarat: Governor Perry, Governor Ryan, and the Disappearance of Executive Clemency in Capital Cases: What Has Happened to Mercy in America? (FindLaw's Writ, 2004)

Victor Streib: The Juvenile Death Penalty Today: Death Sentences and Executions for Juvenile Crimes, January 1, 1973 - December 31, 2004 (2005)

Victor Streib: Death Penalty for Female Offenders, January 1, 1973 through December 31, 2004 (2005)

Ronald J. Tabak: The Egregiously Unfair Implementation of Capital Punishment in the United States: "Super Due Process" or Super Lack of Due Process? (Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, 2003)

Wayne Morse Center for Law and Politics Symposium: The Law and Politics of the Death Penalty: Abolition, Moratorium, or Reform? (Oregon Law Review, 2002)

Kathleen van Wormer & Chuk Odiah: The Psychology of Suicide-Murder and the Death Penalty (1997)

R. George Wright: The Death Penalty and the Way We Think Now (Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review, 2000)


Popular writings on capital punishment

Anthony G. Amsterdam: Courtroom Contortions (The American Prospect, 2004)

Hugo Adam Bedau: The Case Against the Death Penalty (1997)

Hugo Adam Bedau: Thinking About the Death Penalty Today (1999)

Jennifer Gonnerman: The Last Executioner (Village Voice, 2005)

Christopher Hitchens: Gov. Death (salon.com, 1999)

A. Lin Neumann: Death Watch: A Night at the Gas Chamber (Columbia Journalism Review, 1992)

Perla Ni et al.: Asian Americans Rarely Executed (AsianWeek, 1999)

Kevin Roderick: Last Steps and Last Words on Death Row (Los Angeles Times, 1990)

Jonathan Wallace: The Death Penalty Legend (The Ethical Spectacle, 2000)

James Wood: Playing God (The New Republic, 2000)


Abolitionist organizations, etc.

Amnesty International

Australian Coalition Against Death Penalty

California Coalition for Alternatives to the Death Penalty

Death Penalty Focus of California

Campaign to End the Death Penalty

Citizens United for Alternatives to the Death Penalty

Coloradans Against the Death Penalty

Death Penalty Information Center

European Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty

Fight the Death Penalty in USA

Hands Off Cain

International Abolitionist Directory

Iowans Against the Death Penalty

Kentucky Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty

Louisiana Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty

Maryland Coalition Against State Executions

Montana Abolition Coalition

Moratorium 2000

Murder Victims Families for Reconciliation

National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty

Nebraskans Against the Death Penalty

New Mexico Coalition to Repeal the Death Penalty

Ohioans to Stop Executions

Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty

Oregon Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty


Virginians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty

Washington Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty

Western Missouri Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty

T P Uschanov's Icy Frigid Aire

Last updated: 6 August 2005
Comments to: T P Uschanov (tuschano@cc.helsinki.fi)
Mail: T P Uschanov, Paraistentie 19 A 8, FI-00560 Helsinki 28, Finland, Europe