Vermont - Abolishment of the death penalty except for treason

Title 13, Chapter 75, § 3401

In 1864, Vermont became the first state to regulate the death penalty in towns and counties, allowing only state-permitted executions and setting a standard for other states, almost all of which followed Vermont's example. [2] By 1965, Vermont rarely used the death penalty and in that year the state legislature banned the death penalty except in cases where a warden, prison employee, or law enforcement officer was murdered while performing work duties. [1, 3] Vermont's legislature abolished the correctional officer exception in 1987. [3] Although the US Department of Justice currently categorizes Vermont as a non-death penalty state (and has since 1988), Vermont maintains the death penalty as punishment for treason and has three statutes governing death penalty procedure. [1, 4]

Title 13: Crimes and Criminal Procedure

13 V.S.A. § 3401. Definition and punishment of treason

A person owing allegiance to this state, who levies war or conspires to levy war against the same, or adheres to the enemies thereof, giving them aid and comfort, within the state or elsewhere, shall be guilty of treason against this state and shall suffer the punishment of death.

Title 13: Crimes and Criminal Procedure


13 V.S.A. § 7103. Place of execution

The sentence of death shall be carried into effect at a place designated by the commissioner of corrections. (Amended 1971, No. 199 (Adj. Sess.), § 11.)

13 V.S.A.  § 7105. Persons present at execution

There shall be present at the execution of the sentence of death, the commissioner of corrections or in case of his or her disability, the keeper, the person who is to perform the execution and his or her assistant, such persons as the commissioner shall designate, and two physicians approved by the commissioner. The physicians present shall be the legal witnesses of the execution. There may also be present the sheriff of the county in which the condemned was convicted or one of his or her deputies approved by him or her, such clergyman as the condemned may desire, and not more than three other persons to be selected by the commissioner. There shall be paid to the person actually performing the execution and to his or her assistant such sums for services and expenses as the commissioner shall approve. (Amended 1971, No. 199 (Adj. Sess.), § 13.)

13 V.S.A. § 7106. Manner of execution   

The punishment of death shall be inflicted by causing to pass through the body of the convict a current of electricity of sufficient intensity to cause death, and the application of such.


1. Department of Justice, "Capital Punishment Tables," www.bjs.doj (accessed Aug. 28, 2012)

2. William S. McFeely, "Trial and Error: Capital Punishment in U.S. History,” (accessed Aug. 28, 2012)

3. Kathleen A. O'Shea, Women and the Death Penalty, 1900-1998, 1999

4. Vermont State Legislature, "Vermont Statutes," (accessed Aug. 28, 2012)