“Todos los cristianos y hombres de buena voluntad están llamadas hoy a trabajar no sólo por la abolición de la pena de muerte, sino también para mejorar las condiciones de las cárceles, en el respeto de la dignidad humana de las personas privadas de libertad.” - Papa Francisco
South Dakota executed 15 men between 1877 and 1947. Four of these executions were prior to statehood. Hanging was the only method used until 1913. The penalty was abolished in 1915 for 18 years, until 1933. Upon resumption of executions, the electric chair became the sole method of execution. South Dakota was the second-to-last state to use electrocution, which was replaced for lethal injection in 1984. South Dakota’s last execution prior to the twenty-first century was in 1947.
2007 marked the first and, to date, only execution in South Dakota since the death penalty was reinstated in 1979 following the Furman US Supreme Court decision. This execution was the result of a trial in 2001, and that case is still having an impact today. In 2001, Elijah Page and Briley Piper pleaded guilty to the torture-murder of Chester Allan Poage. They were both sentenced to death by a judge. Darrell Hoadley chose to plead innocent to the murder and was convicted by a jury. Though he was found to have the same aggravating factors against him, a split sentencing jury led to his receiving life in prison. Page chose to end his appeals and was executed in 2007. Piper challenged his death sentence and had it vacated, but in July 2011 he was re-sentenced to death by a jury and he continues his appeals.
For more information and ways to get involved, contact your state's organizations:
The Catholic Advocate Network (CAN) is the grassroots public policy initiative of the Diocese of Sioux Falls. Many dioceses belong to a state Catholic Conference that conducts the public policy activities for the member dioceses in that state. In the absence of a Catholic Conference in South Dakota, CAN was created to educate, inform and alert the Catholic faithful in South Dakota about legislative actions.
South Dakotans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty is a statewide organization of individuals united in the pursuit of one purpose: the repeal of capital punishment from South Dakota law.