The History of the Death Penalty in Maine and the 21 Executions on the Books
Also known as capital punishment, the death penalty is when someone commits a crime and is then sentenced to death.
According to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, there are 5 methods of execution currently on the books in the United States; lethal injection, electrocution, lethal gas, hanging, and firing squad. Going further back in history methods such as hanging was much more common. According to KTRE, there hasn't been a hanging in the United States since 1996. Of course, beheadings were a somewhat common thing many years ago, just not here in the United States.
Death Penalty in Maine
Maine was one of the first states in the country to abolish the death penalty, not once, but twice. First in 1876 and then it was reestablished in 1883 for murder and then was gone for good by 1887, according to Maine.gov.
Now, this does not mean a Mainer can't be sentenced to death as this can still be carried out federally.
Mainers Killed By Capital Punishment
There have been 21 people executed here in Maine dating back before Maine was even established as a state, beginning in 1644.
Death Penalty USA lists all 21. 2 female and 19 male. All but one committed murder.
The first was a woman described as a housewife only known as Mrs. Cornish her crime? Murder. It is not known what area she lived in.
There were 4 from Cumberland County.
2 from York County including a 23-year-old Native American woman for murder.
3 from Knox county including a man by the name of Jeremiah Baum for treason.
There was only 1 in Lincoln County. His name was Edmund Fortis and he was listed as a runaway slave and his crime was listed as murder and rape.
Hancock County, Waldo County, and Kennebec County each had 1.
Sagadahoc County only had 1, which was the last one for Maine. It was a man named Daniel Wilkinson. His death prompted the movement to end the death penalty in Maine because his hanging went terribly wrong. According to Death Penalty Information Center, Daniels's noose was poorly tied leading to a slow and painful strangulation.
Androscoggin had 3, including a 20-year-old laborer named Clifton Harris for murder, rape, and robbery.
Penobscot County had 2 who appear to have committed the crime of murder and robbery together. Raffaele Capone and Carmine Santore were railroad workers and were both put to death on April 17, 1885.
Everyone executed in Maine was killed by hanging.
Bringing Capital Punishment Back
While the death penalty is very much a thing of the past here in Maine, that doesn't mean there haven't been attempts to bring it back over the years.
According to Maine.gov, there have been efforts as recently as the early 2000s. In 2001 there was LD 1493: An Act to Reinstate the Death Penalty for the Murder of Children, and in 2005, LD 1501: An Act to Prevent Domestic Abuse by Reinstating the Death Penalty for Persons Who Murder Family or Household Members.
Do you think the death penalty should return to Maine?