Execute Like It’s 1908

By Dale Brumfield


In 1908, Virginia legislators patted themselves on the back for “progressive” law #398, introduced by Henrico Delegate Throckmorton, titled “An Act to establish a permanent place in the State penitentiary at Richmond Virginia for the execution of felons upon whom the death penalty is to be imposed, and to change the mode of execution so that the death sentence shall be by electricity,” and passed March 16 of that year.


The Death Penalty Endgame

By The Editorial Board

(Credit: Daniel Zender)

How does the death penalty in America end?

For decades that has been an abstract question. Now there may be an answer in the case of Shonda Walter, a 36-year-old black woman on Pennsylvania’s death row. On Friday, the Supreme Court met to discuss whether to hear a petition from Ms. Walter, who is asking the justices to rule that in all cases, including hers, the death penalty violates the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishments.


“I executed 62 people. I’m sorry”: Virginia’s former executioner turned death-penalty opponent

By Selene Nelson

(Credit: AP/Pat Sullivan)

They say you can’t put a price on life, but what about death? Earlier this year I spoke to Jerry Givens, a former state executioner turned death penalty abolitionist. He told me that for people who carry out the death penalty, the real, enduring cost is emotional.

“If I had known what I’d have to go through as an executioner, I wouldn’t have done it. It took a lot out of me to do it. You can’t tell me I can take the life of people and go home and be normal.”