The History of the Death Penalty in Colorado

Michael L. Radelet, University of Colorado

This paper summarizes a research project that gathered information on every execution that occurred in Colorado, 1859-1972 (N=102). Before 1890, executions were held in public throughout Colorado, including some that occurred a short walk away from where the American Society of Criminology is meeting today. I examine the debates that changed the way in which the death penalty has been practiced in Colorado, including the movement of hangings from local counties to one central location in Canon City in 1890, the temporary abolition of the death penalty in 1897, the continual search for a more "humane" way to execute, and the longstanding presence of strong abolition sentiment in the state.

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Updated 05/20/2006