The federal district of the United States was barely established before the first execution by hanging in 1802. The last person executed in the District of Columbia was in 1957. The District’s death penalty was nullified by the Supreme Court in 1972 and repealed by the D.C. Council in 1981. District residents voted 2-1 against the death penalty in a 1992 referendum ordered by Congress. Because it is a federal district subject to the governing authority of the U.S. Congress, there have been several Congressional attempts to impose the death penalty in the District over several high-profile cases during the past decade. Local opposition thwarted each of these attempts.
Since the District does not permit the death penalty, prisoners of the United States government who are tried and sentenced to death are held at the Federal Correctional Complex in Indiana, where executions are legal.