No matter what side of the debate you’re on regarding the death penalty, it’s clear that there have been some executions in the U.S. that have been the subject of controversy as to whether those who were killed were really guilty. And in recent times, as several executions have taken so long to complete that they could easily be considered ‘cruel and unusual punishment,’ it seems like the appropriate time to revisit some of the most brutal and shocking executions in history.

1. Caryl Chessman


Chessman was arrested in 1948 for rape, kidnapping and robbery and was charged as being the notorious ‘Red Light Bandit.’ While he denied all the accusations, he was still found guilty, and because he had physically harmed one of his victims, he got the death penalty. Many believed he was innocent, including former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, but despite several stays of execution, Chessman was put to death in the gas chamber in 1960, hours before a judge ordered another stay of execution.