Punishment by Death

Archive Report

Decline in Resort to Capital Punishment

Execution as punishment for crime is becoming increasingly rare in the United States. During the past two decades, disuse of the death penalty has virtually abolished capital punishment in many states in which the law still allows it. Yet the debate between opponents and defenders of punishment by death continues unabated.

Public attention has been focused on the problem in recent years by a few sensational cases: The gas-chamber death in California in 1960 of Caryl W. Chessman, rapist-kidnaper-author whose legal maneuvers delayed his execution for almost 12 years; the commutation last August in Illinois of the death sentence imposed on Paul Crump, a convicted murderer who, like Chessman, turned to writing while in prison;1 and the hanging in Israel ...

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