“Cruel and Unusual Punishment”?

Scott Christianson

in The Last Gasp

Published by University of California Press

Published in print December 2010 | ISBN: 9780520255623
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520945616 | DOI:
“Cruel and Unusual Punishment”?

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  • History of the Americas


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By the late 1970s, public opinion in the United States was swinging ever more strongly in favor of the death penalty. Although the public's appetite for gas chambers had diminished, eleven states—Arizona, California, Colorado, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico (until 1978), North Carolina, Rhode Island, and Wyoming—still clung to that method of capital punishment. But the legal battle over the constitutionality of lethal gas executions, and the rise of the new method of lethal injection, were just beginning to take hold. Henry Schwarzschild, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union Capital Punishment Project, served as one of the key national players in the anti-death penalty movement in the late 1970s. After John Spenkelink's execution, attention shifted to Jesse Walter Bishop and Jimmy Lee Gray. One by one, states had backed away from the continued use of the gas chamber, usually substituting lethal injection instead.

Keywords: United States; death penalty; gas chamber; executions; lethal gas; capital punishment; Henry Schwarzschild; lethal injection; Jesse Walter Bishop; Jimmy Lee Gray

Chapter.  8705 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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