Paul Crump

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Paul Crump (April 2, 1930 – October 11, 2002) was a death row inmate who gained international notoriety and parole after writing the novel Burn, Killer, Burn.

Crimes and prison sentences[edit]

Crump served 39 years in prison for killing a security guard in the armed robbery of a Chicago meatpacking plant in 1953. His four accomplices received prison sentences, but Crump was sentenced to die in the electric chair and had 15 execution dates before Louis Nizer took on his case and the sentence was commuted to 199 years by Gov. Otto Kerner. He was paroled in 1993.

He returned to prison after being convicted of harassing a family member and violating an order of protection.[1]


His novel is autobiographical and was published in 1962. It is about a murderer who commits suicide rather than be executed. Life magazine on July 27, 1962 featured a 4-page article on Paul Crump, "Facing Death, A New Life Perhaps Too Late".


William Friedkin produced and directed a documentary for television in 1962, titled The People vs. Paul Crump when Crump had been on death row for nine years. The program was not aired, due to content regarded as controversial.[2] Nizer's involvement with attorney Donald Moore in the legal battle to have Crump's death sentence commuted was the subject of Robert Drew's 1963 documentary The Chair.[3]

In song[edit]

Folk singer Phil Ochs wrote a song entitled "Paul Crump" that chronicled Crump's life. The song appears on two of Ochs' albums: The Early Years and A Toast to Those Who Are Gone.


Crump died of cancer at age 72, on October 12, 2002 at the Chester Mental Health Center in Chester, Illinois.


  1. ^ New York Times.
  2. ^
  3. ^ P.J. O'Connell (1992). Robert Drew and the Development of Cinema Verite in America. Southern Illinois University Press. pp. 141–149. ISBN 0-8093-1779-6.