10 Last-minute Stays of Execution

Lots More Information


Nearly Half of All Americans Have a Family Member Who's Been Jailed

Nearly Half of All Americans Have a Family Member Who's Been Jailed

HowStuffWorks looks at a new study on what percentage of Americans have a family member in jail or prison.

Author's Note: 10 Last-minute Stays of Execution

In my 30-year career as a journalist, I've covered a number of murder cases. I've listed to some grisly courtroom testimony about extreme acts of violence and got to see the perpetrators close-up. I've also met the families of murder victims, and seen the heartache and trauma they've experienced. As a result, I don't have much sympathy for convicted killers, and I don't have any abstract moral qualms about the death penalty. In practical terms, however, I also know that capital punishment doesn't work very well, because ensuring that there aren't any wrongful executions necessitates an appeals process that can be lengthy, time-consuming, and extremely expensive to taxpayers. As a result, Randy Kraft, a California serial killer whose case I covered in the 1980s, was still sitting on death row at San Quentin prison 24 years after his conviction for 16 murders. I'm guessing that the cost of litigating his appeals and keeping him in segregated, high-security confinement all those years has cost taxpayers many additional millions of dollars, while providing little consolation to his victims' families.

Related Articles


  • Associated Press. "Autry's Day of Waiting Ends With Delayed Word of Stay." Palm Beach Post. Oct. 6, 1983. (March 3, 2013) http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=-v4sAAAAIBAJ&sjid=Ks0FAAAAIBAJ&pg=2727,4280617&hl=en
  • Associated Press. "Battles Against Execution Noted." Spokane Daily Chronicle. May 2, 1960. (March 2, 2013) http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=bR5YAAAAIBAJ&sjid=MvcDAAAAIBAJ&pg=6902,241176&dq=caryl+chessman+arrested&hl=en
  • Associated Press. "Charles Starkweather Executed." Tri City Herald. June 25, 1959. (March 3, 2013) http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1951&dat=19590625&id=YWItAAAAIBAJ&sjid=AIkFAAAAIBAJ&pg=732,2824805
  • Associated Press. "Doomed Slayer Snatched From Electric Chair." Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Nov. 27, 1931. (March 3, 2013) http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=sOUhAAAAIBAJ&sjid=ImQEAAAAIBAJ&pg=5308,1682801&dq=frank-bell+executed+chicago&hl=en
  • Associated Press. "House Drops Impeachment." Sarasota Journal. July 7, 1953. (March 3, 2013) http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=pAAdAAAAIBAJ&sjid=M4oEAAAAIBAJ&pg=2205,433059&dq=rosenbergs+stay-of-execution&hl=en
  • Associated Press. "Jake Bird Pays for Crime on State Prison Gallows." St. Petersburg Times. July 16, 1949. (March 2, 2013)http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=OX1aAAAAIBAJ&sjid=lU4DAAAAIBAJ&pg=2542,2396532&dq=jake-bird&hl=en
  • Associated Press. "Lack of Counsel Cited By Judge After Dad Pleads." Oxnard Press-Courier. May 22, 1959. (March 3, 2013) http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=pxdLAAAAIBAJ&sjid=DSMNAAAAIBAJ&pg=6951,5192591&dq=last-minute-stay-of-execution&hl=en
  • Associated Press. "Last-Minute Stay Stops Texas Execution." Palm Beach Post. Oct. 5, 1983. (March 3, 2013) http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=-_4sAAAAIBAJ&sjid=Ks0FAAAAIBAJ&pg=1294,3335030&hl=en
  • Associated Press. "Rosenbergs Gain Stay of Execution." Toledo Blade. Feb. 17, 1953. (March 3, 2013) http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=_0ZOAAAAIBAJ&sjid=egAEAAAAIBAJ&pg=3476,320610&dq=rosenbergs+stay-of-execution&hl=en
  • Associated Press. "Rosenbergs Get Stay, 1,500 Picket White House." Youngstown Vindicator. Jan. 6, 1953. (March 3, 2013) http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=bMQ_AAAAIBAJ&sjid=yVcMAAAAIBAJ&pg=2131,1304903&dq=rosenbergs+stay-of-execution&hl=en
  • Associated Press. "Rosenbergs Get Stay of Execution." Sarasota Journal. June 17, 1953. (March 3, 2013) http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=KwEdAAAAIBAJ&sjid=OIoEAAAAIBAJ&pg=2612,1406931&dq=rosenbergs+stay-of-execution&hl=en
  • Associated Press. "Six-Pack Killer Executed by Lethal Injection." Ottawa Citizen. March 14, 1984. (March 3, 2013) http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=jdEyAAAAIBAJ&sjid=Ue8FAAAAIBAJ&pg=2650,1208716&hl=en
  • Associated Press. "Two in Murder Spree are Hanged in Kansas." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. June 23, 1965. (March 3, 1963) http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=Xj8NAAAAIBAJ&sjid=hGwDAAAAIBAJ&pg=4896,3441795&dq=james-douglas-latham+con&hl=en
  • Associated Press. "Two Killers Get Reprieve As They Flip Coin for First." The New York Times. June 20, 1963. (March 2, 1963) http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive/pdf?res=F20715FE3859137B93C2AB178DD85F478685F9
  • Conklin, William R. "Atom Spy Couple Sentenced to Die; Aide Gets 30 Years." The New York Times. April 6, 1951. (March 3, 2013)http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive/pdf?res=F60C1FF9355A1A7B93C4A9178FD85F458585F9
  • CNN Wire Staff. "Condemned Georgia inmate gets reprieve." CNN.com. July 24, 2012. (March 3, 2013) http://www.cnn.com/2012/07/23/justice/georgia-execution-stay/index.html
  • Elder, Robert K. "Last Words of the Executed." University of Chicago Press. 2010. (March 3, 2013) http://books.google.com/books?id=cOxMYVG0nWwC&pg=PA140&dq=%22Frank+Bell%22++Chicago&hl=en&sa=X&ei=reoyUYSXDOXy0QHZt4HQBg&ved=0CDcQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=%22Frank%20Bell%22%20%20Chicago&f=false
  • Galveston Daily News. "Convicted Killers Granted Last-Minute Execution Stay." June 20, 1963. (March 3, 2013). http://newspaperarchive.com/galveston-daily-news/1963-06-20/page-2
  • Huston, Luther A. "Ruling by Douglas in Rosenberg Case Delayed To Today." The New York Times. June 17, 1953. (March 3, 2013)http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive/pdf?res=F10E1EF93D5B177B93C5A8178DD85F478585F9
  • International News Service. "The Squealer Lived But Four Others Died." Telegraph-Herald and Times-Journal. Oct. 16, 1931. (March 3, 2013) http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=Z5BSAAAAIBAJ&sjid=Mr4MAAAAIBAJ&pg=3349,5234176&hl=en
  • Johnson, Scott Patrick. "Trials of the Century: An Encyclopedia of Popular Culture and the Law, Volume 1." Greenwood Publishing. 2011. (March 3, 2013) http://books.google.com/books?id=XNEZ-sy0MJsC&pg=PA501&lpg=PA501&dq=Bundy+Leach+guilty+1980&source=bl&ots=pwtzg2YCml&sig=yadpCoVNyG-P7Mr7WyFyLTjKoQ4&hl=en&sa=X&ei=Jb0zUfK2O8uv0AGU7oC4AQ&ved=0CGAQ6AEwBg#v=onepage&q=Bundy%20Leach%20guilty%201980&f=false
  • Leyton, Elliott. "Hunting Humans: The Rise of the Modern Multiple Murderer." McLelland and Stewart. 2005. (March 3, 2013)http://books.google.com/books?id=7fItEy725CMC&pg=PT202&lpg=PT202&dq=Starkweather+%22stepping+on+a+bug%22&source=bl&ots=Z84Tm3GLF-&sig=UOtHkdJ1gHkQUEnJ8UJ-76_5KC4&hl=en&sa=X&ei=o50zUe_7A6T00gHBg4CACA&ved=0CDEQ6AEwAQ
  • Linder, Douglas. "Judge Kaufman's Statement Upon Sentencing the Rosenbergs." Umkc.edu. Undated. (March 6, 2013) http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/rosenb/ROS_SENT.HTM
  • Marsh, Dave. "Bruce Springsteen: Two Hearts, the Definitive Biography." Routledge. 2004. (March 3, 2013) http://books.google.com/books?id=sLJZ84jaxhsC&pg=PA337&lpg=PA337&dq=Starkweather+%22there's+just+a+meanness%22&source=bl&ots=gjnIKJ2Zqd&sig=uwxIq9IOuTE6HjU_gk9dF3Hg7vY&hl=en&sa=X&ei=apozUd79I8ji0QGy-oDwBw&ved=0CEkQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=Starkweather%20%22there's%20just%20a%20meanness%22&f=false
  • Mears, Bill. "Executions, death sentences remain steady over past year." CNN. Dec. 18, 2012. (March 3, 2013) http://www.cnn.com/2012/12/18/us/death-penalty-numbers
  • Michaud, Stephen G. and Aynesworth, Hugh. "The Only Living Witness: The True Story of Serial Killer Ted Bundy." Authorlink. 1999. (March 3, 2013) http://books.google.com/books?id=rO5IdAhFw_YC&printsec=frontcover&dq=ted+bundy&hl=en&sa=X&ei=lLkzUdvdKqXp0gGdsYDYAw&ved=0CDwQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=ted%20bundy&f=false
  • The New York Times. "Cell 2455, Death Row (1955)." Undated. (March 2, 2013) http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/86891/Cell-2455-Death-Row/overview
  • Nordheimer, Jon. "Bundy Talks." Daytona Beach Sunday News-Journal. March 30, 1986. (March 3, 2013) http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=y0cuAAAAIBAJ&sjid=X84EAAAAIBAJ&pg=2844,10121927&dq=ted+bundy+stay+of+execution&hl=en
  • Nordheimer, Jon. "Serial Killer Ted Bundy Executed." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Jan. 25, 1989. (March 3, 2013) http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=wZ5RAAAAIBAJ&sjid=2G0DAAAAIBAJ&pg=5053,5652920&dq=ted+bundy+executed&hl=en
  • Severson, Kim. "Davis Is Executed in Georgia." The New York Times. Sep. 21, 2011. (March 3, 2013) http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/22/us/final-pleas-and-vigils-in-troy-davis-execution.html?pagewanted=all
  • Springsteenlyrics.com. "Nebraska." Springsteenlyrics.com. 2013. (March 3, 2013) http://www.springsteenlyrics.com/lyrics/n/nebraska.php
  • Supreme Court of Florida. "Ted Bundy, Appellant, vs. State of Florida, Appellee." Law.fsu.edu. June 21, 1984. (March 3, 2013)http://www.law.fsu.edu/library/flsupct/57772/op-57772.pdf
  • Time. "Justice: The Chessman Affair." Time. March 21, 1960. (March 2, 2013)http://www.time.com/time/subscriber/printout/0,8816,894774,00.html
  • United Press. "Jake Bird Now on Last Mile." The Bulletin. July 14, 1949. (March 3, 2013) http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=Fe8sAAAAIBAJ&sjid=9fcDAAAAIBAJ&pg=4413,13374&dq=last-minute-stay-of-execution&hl=en
  • United Press International. "New Death Date." Deseret News. May 12, 1965. (March 3, 2013) http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=8dkqAAAAIBAJ&sjid=xEkDAAAAIBAJ&pg=6236,2486202&dq=james-douglas-latham+con&hl=en
  • United Press International. "Serial Killer Ted Bundy Wins a Stay of Execution." Pittsburgh Press. Nov. 17, 1986. (March 3, 2013)http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=HqkcAAAAIBAJ&sjid=K2MEAAAAIBAJ&pg=1645,3023490&dq=ted+bundy+stay+of+execution&hl=en
  • Walz, Jay. "New Execution Stay Denied to Rosenbergs." The New York Times. May 27, 1953. (March 3, 2013) http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive/pdf?res=F60914FB3D5B177B93C5AB178ED85F478585F9
  • Wasby, Stephen L. "He Shall Not Pass This Way Again: The Legacy of Justice William O. Douglas." University of Pittsburgh Press. 1990. (March 3, 2013)http://books.google.com/books?id=46tsfH1HuBoC&pg=PA22&lpg=PA22&dq=douglas+granted+stay+to+rosenbergs&source=bl&ots=F1xThRxAzr&sig=vm8jnShl9dCFaiIfNficeiW32Ws&hl=en&sa=X&ei=t44zUd-bEYf50gGQk4Bg&ved=0CGMQ6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q=douglas%20granted%20stay%20to%20rosenbergs&f=false

More to Explore