Year of Reenactment
(since 1972 suspension)
Year of Abolition

1630-1900: hanging

1900-1984: electrocution


In total, there have been 345 executions in Massachusetts, including 26 for witchcraft. Nineteen of those executed for witchcraft were hanged in Salem in 1692 as a result of the famous Salem Witch Trials.

After Furman v. Georgia, voters in the Commonwealth passed an amendment that allowed the death penalty in 1982. Later that same year, the legislature passed a bill reinstating the death penalty for first-degree murder. In Commonwealth v. Colon-Cruz (1984), the Massachusetts law that enabled capital punishment was ruled unconstitutional on the grounds that it was not applied fairly, since only defendants who went to trial were eligible; this excluded defendants who plead guilty.

previous | next