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 in a backyard cistern.[1]

Wisconsin abolished the death penalty in 1853, just two years after McCaffary's execution[2] becoming just the first state to abolish the death penalty for all crimes.[3]

In 2006, an advisory referendum showed 56 % of the Wisconsin voters in favor of reinstating capital punishment. The state legislature did not adopt any statute to apply the popular vote.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Wife-slayer hung in Kenosha County 69 Years Ago, Was Last Execution in Wisconsin," Kenosha Herald December 3, 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 July 22, 2016.
  4. ^ "Wisconsin Death Penalty Referendum Results". Retrieved July 22, 2016.