The territorial legislature of Hawaii abolished the death penalty when it was still a U.S. protectorate in 1957, and thus never had capital punishment when it was a state. However, prior to 1959, there were 49 total executions dating back to the late 1800s, all of which were hangings for murder. Almost all of those executed were minorities such as Native Hawaiian, Chinese, Japanese, or Filipino.
Attempts to reinstate the death penalty have been presented to the state legislature over 15 times but have been unsuccessful. However, inmates in Hawaii’s prison system may not be fully protected. In 2010, two Hawaiian inmates killed another Hawaiian inmate in one of the state’s mainland facilities. The two inmates are facing the possibility of a death sentence despite the fact that they are Hawaiian prisoners, because the crime was committed in Arizona, a state which does allow the death penalty.