Pub. date: 2005 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952514 | Print ISBN: 9780761927310 | Online ISBN: 9781412952514| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
J. C. Oleson
Death row refers both to the physical space where those awaiting execution are held and the general population who have been sentenced to death. Capital punishment is as old as written law. It was the ascribed punishment for 25 different crimes under Hammurabi's Code (c. 1700 B.C. ). Since condemned individuals are typically confined between the moments of judgment and execution, some form of “death row” must be equally ancient. Through the centuries, however, death row has evolved from a rudimentary cell located near the place of public execution to a highly specialized, segregated unit within a modern penal facility. Historically, executions were public spectacles (and remain so in countries such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Nigeria). But throughout the 19th century, many Western countries began conducting executions in private, behind prison walls. In 1834, Pennsylvania removed its executions from the public gaze; Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York followed ...