Caryl Chessman

From Academic Kids

Caryl Chessman (27 May, 1921May 2, 1960) was a convicted American sex offender. Chessman was given the death penalty in 1948 and executed in 1960, but he claimed his innocence, and argued this convincingly, until the end. His case attracted world-wide attention and as a result he became a cause-célèbre of the movement to ban capital punishment. Chessman appealed his conviction on the grounds that the original trial was improperly conducted and that subsequent appeals were seriously hampered by incomplete and incorrect transcripts of the original trial proceedings. The appeals were successful and the Supreme Court ordered the State of California to either conduct of full review of the transcripts or release Chessman. The review concluded that the transcript were substantially accurate and Chessman went to the gas chamber in 1960.

While on death row Chessman wrote four books: three autobiographical books focusing on his life, trial, the penal system, and death row, and also a novel. In the first book, Cell 2455, Chessman clearly implies having killed a man, though he was never prosecuted or convicted for this.

Most people familiar with Chessman's case agree that, regardless of his actual guilt or innocence, Chessman's insistence on representing himself ultimately led to his execution. Despite being very smart and very knowledgeable of the law, Chessman was an unprofessional trial performer who caused needless and counterproductive courtroom confrontations.

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