Growing up in North Dakota I remember hearing about the death penalty in North Dakota.  As a young boy, I was under the impression that North Dakota did indeed have capital punishment.

As it turns out, North Dakota did have remnants of the death penalty in the state all the way up into the 70s.  However, nobody had been put to death in the state for many years.

According to the Death Penalty Information Center, North Dakota has only carried out 8 executions in its history.  The last time it actually happened was all the way back in 1905.  John Rooney has the dubious honor of being the last living soul to be put to death in the state of North Dakota.

According to Wikipedia, John Rooney was actually executed right here in Bismarck by hanging in the North Dakota State Penitentiary.

A farm worker named Harold Sweet was shot and killed during a robbery near a railroad track in Fargo, North Dakota.  Rooney was arrested and charged with first-degree murder.  He was then convicted by a jury on March 31st, 1903, and sentenced to death.

Rooney was then hung at the state penitentiary here in Bismarck on October 17th, 1905.  It was the first execution in North Dakota's history to be held in a prison as opposed to the public.

That must not have sat too well with North Dakotans.  The death penalty was soon abolished in 1915, with the exception of treason or murder committed by an inmate already serving a life sentence.  The last remnants of capital punishment were officially abolished in the state in 1973.

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