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Crime and Punishment in the Jim Crow South$
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Amy Louise Wood and Natalie J. Ring

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780252042409

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252042409.001.0001

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The Making of the Modern Death Penalty in Jim Crow North Carolina

The Making of the Modern Death Penalty in Jim Crow North Carolina

(p.192) Chapter 9 The Making of the Modern Death Penalty in Jim Crow North Carolina
Crime and Punishment in the Jim Crow South

Seth Kotch

University of Illinois Press

focuses on the transition from local public hangings to state-controlled electrocutions in North Carolina in the early twentieth century. The chapter addresses the impact of this shift on African American communities. Although the death penalty had long served as an instrument of racial control, the ritual of a local hanging nevertheless had allowed the condemned and black witnesses a public space to express religious convictions and honor the condemned’s suffering. Once the state seized control of this ritual, African Americans were largely excluded as witnesses. The modern death penalty thus came to represent the racial subjugation of Jim Crow, indeed having more in common with lynchings than legal hangings had.

Keywords:   Jim Crow, North Carolina, death penalty, public hangings, electrocutions, African Americans, lynching, ritual

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