Jan. 30, 1999 Updated: Feb. 8, 1999 and June 25, 2001
An overview of the death penalty in this century -- with the leading arguments for and against capital punishment, and some of the leading cases that have motivated the public.
by J.J. Maloney
More than 4,500 people have been executed in the United States since 1930. There is no way of knowing how many have been executed in U.S. history because executions were often local affairs, with no central agency keeping track of them.
In addition to judicially imposed executions, from 1882 through 1951 there were 4,730 recorded lynchings by vigilantes in the U.S, with many of them being highly public affairs.
Even when miscreants were afforded a trial and executed in accordance with law, such events were often local in nature. For example, while states such as New York electrocuted condemned persons at Sing Sing's electric chair as early as the late 19th century, in states such as Missouri hangings were conducted at local county jails as late as 1937.