Capital punishment in Wisconsin

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Capital punishment in Wisconsin was abolished in 1853. Wisconsin was one of the earliest United States states to abolish the death penalty, and is the only state that has performed only one execution in its history.

Since its admission to the Union in 1848, as the 30th State, the only execution carried out in Wisconsin was that of immigrant farmer John McCaffary, who was hanged on August 21, 1851 in Kenosha County for drowning his wife.[1]

Wisconsin abolished the death penalty in 1853, just two years after McCaffary's execution (in part due to the public revulsion at the spectacle which McCaffary's execution became),[2] becoming just the first state to abolish the death penalty for all crimes.[3]

In 2006, an advisory referendum showed 55% of the Wisconsin voters favorable to the Wisconsin State Legislature restoring capital punishment; the legislators did not restore capital punishment.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 'Wife-slayer hung in Kenosha County 69 Years Ago, Was Last Execution in Wisconsin,' Kenosha Herald, December3, 1920
  2. ^ 'The history of the death penalty in Wisconsin,' Holmen Onalaska Courier-Life, October 26, 2006
  3. ^ "Report of the Select Committee, to whom was referred, a Bill to Abolish the Death Penalty | Turning Points in Wisconsin History | Wisconsin Historical Society". Retrieved 2016-07-22. 
  4. ^ "Wisconsin Death Penalty Referendum Results". Retrieved 2016-07-22.