Timelines
Death Penalty

  • 1608
    First Execution Carried Out In Colonies

  • 1632
    First Woman Executed In Colonies

  • 1767
    Essay Against Death Penalty Gets Widespread Attention

  • 1790
    Anti-Death Penalty Movement Takes Shape

  • 1791
    Eighth Amendment Passed

  • 1878
    Execution By Public Shooting Not 'Cruel And Unusual' Punishment

  • 1888
    Electric Chair Is Introduced

  • 1890
    Execution By Electrocution Ruled Constitutional

  • 1900
    Some States Abolish Death Penalty

  • 1920
    Renewed Public Support For Death Penalty

  • 1924
    Use Of Cyanide Gas Introduced In Executions

  • 1947
    Second Electrocution Attempt After First One Fails Is Not 'Cruel and Unusual'

  • 1950
    Public Opinion On Death Penalty Changes Again

  • 1958
    Court Tries To Define What 'Cruel And Unusual' Means

  • 1972
    Most Death Penalty Statutes Declared Unconstitutional

  • 1976
    Mandatory Death Sentences Are Struck Down
    Court Defines When Death Penalty Is Constitutional

  • 1977
    Death Penalty Ruled Unconstitutional For Certain Crimes
    Lethal Injection Introduced As Execution Method

  • 1986
    Execution Of Insane Inmates Banned

  • 1988
    Execution Of Juveniles Found Unconstitutional

  • 1989
    Execution Of Mentally Retarded Inmates Is Upheld

  • 1993
    Evidence Of Innocence Not Enough to Invalidate Death Sentence

  • 1997
    Electric Chair Challenged Again In Florida
    Electric Chair Malfunctions In Florida

  • 2000
    Ill. Governor Declares Moratorium On Executions
    Report Shows Racial And Geographic Disparities In Executions

  • 2002
    Court Reverses Itself On Executing Mentally Retarded Inmates

  • 2003
    New Standards For Defense Counsel's Obligations In Capital Cases

  • 2008
    Court Upholds Lethal Injection Method In Ky.
    Court Rejects Death Penalty For Child Rape

  • 2011
    Illinois Abolishes Death Penalty

  • 2015
    Lethal Injection Procedure Allowed