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The national debate regarding the death penalty has raged for decades, consistently attracting a high degree of media, political, and legal attention. The effort to abolish the death penalty in Massachusetts was no different; the movement was a decades-long struggle that ensnared politicians, activists, falsely accused defendants, and the Supreme Judicial Court. This Article traces the contours of the anti-death penalty movement through the work of Sara Ehrmann, head of the Massachusetts Council Against the Death Penalty (MCADP), the numerous governors who had to confront this politically vexing issue, and the Supreme Judicial Court, which drove the final nail into the death penalty coffin in Massachusetts. This Article illustrates that the death penalty met its demise in Massachusetts because of tireless activists like Ehrmann, steadfast governors, and principled Supreme Judicial Court judges who used the law to invalidate the ultimate penalty.


File nameDate UploadedVisibilityFile size
7 Sep 2022
6.4 MB



  • Subject
    • Criminal Law

  • Journal title
    • Boston College Third World Law Journal

  • Volume
    • 22

  • Issue
    • 2

  • Pagination
    • 281

  • Date submitted

    7 September 2022