Abolition State

Iowa carried out 46 executions between 1834 and 1965. All of those executed were men; 43 were executed for murder and 3 were executed for rape.

Iowa’s original death penalty statute remained active until 1872. Gov. Cyrus Carpenter, spurred by an active anti-death penalty Quaker and Unitarian population, signed the first legislation to abolish the death penalty in Iowa. The abolition did not last long however, as a national economic depression and a wave of crime swept over Iowa and mobs began lynching several accused or convicted defendants. In 1878, capital punishment was reinstated by the Iowa legislature in order to bring an end to lynchings and to attempt to stem the flood of crime that had hit the state.

In 1965, Gov. Harold Hughes signed a bill to abolish Iowa’s death penalty for a second time. Since then, numerous attempts have been made at reinstatement. Recent public opinion surveys have shown that a majority of Iowans tend to favor capital punishment, but although support is broad, it is not very deep. Nevertheless, pro-capital punishment forces have become stronger and more organized in the state and Iowa’s checkered history with the death penalty may be ready to repeat itself.

Iowa Fact Sheet

For more information and ways to get involved, contact your state's organizations:

Iowa Catholic Conference

Under the direction of the bishops of Iowa, we advocate for the common good in the state of Iowa and work with other groups to promote public policies that respect the human person. The Iowa Catholic Conference serves as the lobbyist in the Iowa legislature on issues important to the Church and society.

Iowans Against the Death Penalty

Iowans against the Death Penalty (IADP) is an independent, nonpartisan, nonsectarian, grassroots organization committed to preventing reinstatement of the death penalty in Iowa through public education and political activism. IADP was founded in 1962 and was instrumental in promoting the repeal of Iowa’s death penalty in 1965.

More Information at Death Penalty Center