death penalty in territorial Alaska
Alaska as a state has never had a death penalty. However, in
Alaska's territorial days, eight men were executed under civil authority
between 1900 and 1957. Records before 1900 are poor, but it is believed
that a total of seven persons were hanged in territorial Alaska from 1869
"A History of the
Death Penalty in Alaska" by Melissa S. Green. Justice Center
Web Site, July 2001. A brief history of capital punishment in Alaska
from Alaska's acquisition as a U.S. territory from Russia in 1867 to
1957, when the Territorial Legislature abolished the death penalty,
two years before statehood.
Punishment in Territorial Alaska: The Last Three Executions"
by Averil Lerman. Frame of Reference [Alaska Humanities Forum],
April 1998. An account of the last 3 executions in Territorial Alaska between 1939 and 1950: Nelson Charles, Austin Nelson, and Eugene LaMoore.
Trial and Hanging of Nelson Charles" by Averil Lerman.
Alaska Justice Forum 13(1), Spring 1996. A more detailed account
of the execution of Nelson Charles, who was hanged in Juneau on November
10, 1939 for the 1938 murder of his mother-in-law.
"My Last Hanging
-- Thoughts on an Execution (Juneau, Nov. 10, 1939)" by
John L. Gaffney. We Alaskans [Sunday supplement to the Anchorage
Daily News], April 23, 1995. Gaffney was a 21-year-old journalist
who was one of twelve witnesses to the 1939 execution of Nelson Charles.
to reintroduce the death penalty in Alaska
"Senate Bill 60:
Advisory Vote on Capital Punishment, 20th Alaska Legislature, 1997-1998"
by Melissa S. Green, Justice Center Web Site, July 2001. Had it passed,
SB 60 would have put an advisory vote on the death penalty before Alaska
voters on the November 1998 ballot, which would have been an important
step toward possible eventual enactment of a statute authorizing capital
punishment in the state.
resources on capital punishment
The Alaska State Legislature
has considered a number of bills in the past several years which would
reinstate the death penalty for specified crimes. Follow the links here
for information on these bills: