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The Last GaspThe Rise and Fall of the American Gas Chamber$
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Scott Christianson

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780520255623

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520255623.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 25 May 2022

The Battle over Capital Punishment

The Battle over Capital Punishment

(p.194) Chapter 10 The Battle over Capital Punishment
The Last Gasp

Scott Christianson

University of California Press

By the early 1960s, American capital punishment was being attacked on several fronts. Some churches and other religious organizations voiced their opposition, while numerous Western nations continued to pressure the United States to end its executions. On April 12, 1967, California carried out its first gassing in four years: the gas chamber execution of Aaron Mitchell, a thirty-seven-year-old black man convicted of slaying a Sacramento policeman during a robbery in 1963. Mitchell's execution set off waves of revulsion and exultation among death penalty opponents and supporters. Colorado's execution of Luis Monge in June of 1967 would turn out to be the last execution in the United States for a decade, and the last gas-chamber execution for twelve years. This gassing, and the others preceding it, as well as the thousands of capital punishments carried out by hanging and electrocution, were about to become a legal relic, at least for a while. Now increased attention was being focused on what the U.S. Supreme Court would rule about the constitutionality of the death penalty.

Keywords:   United States, executions, California, gas chamber, capital punishment, death penalty, Aaron Mitchell, Supreme Court, Colorado, Luis Monge

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