History of the Death Penalty

Part I
Part II



This chart chronicles the United State's use of the death penalty over the past four centuries. The chart highlights the gradual rise in use of capital punishment in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries; a peak of executions in the early 20th century; moratorium; and finally, a trend toward more executions in recent years.

The statistics used in the chart were primarily compiled from M. Watt Espy and John Ortiz Smylka's database, "Executions in the U.S. 1608-2002: The Espy File." (Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research) Periodically, DPIC will feature additional information derived from the Espy file. See also, The Espy File.


 

This video by Rob Stansfield, PhD of Sociology & Anthropology at University of Guelph, depicts the history of abolition of capital punishment in the United States, on a state by state basis, from 1846 to 2012.