23 January 1963 – James Abner Bentley

The execution of James Abner Bentley kicked off an unofficial backlash against the death penalty in California.

Bentley was sent to the gas chamber on this day in 1963. But this was at a time when more liberal law makers, such as Governor Edmund ‘Pat’ Brown, were emerging, who were wholly against death as a sentence.

Right to life?

This life for a life sat uncomfortably amid this more humane climate and it sparked a spate of stays of execution. Death row inmates were effectively staving off their final days indeterminately, over a period that lasted four years.

Bentley’s case in itself was unremarkable. He was found guilty of killing an off licence owner in Fresno and, as the state dictated, that meant death. His execution led to an unofficial investigation in to the gas chamber as a means of penalty and paved the way for the real investigation at the end of the ’60s.

Also on this day

23 January 1822 – Henry Thompson and Richard Jago

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5 Responses to “23 January 1963 – James Abner Bentley”

  1. Jim Welch Says:

    I am thankful that James Bentley was executed. He also murdered both of my parents in Arizona on June 9, 1961 leaving myself and my three younger brothers without parents. He took our life as we had known it. I am thankful for the death penalty and encourage it’s continued use. It should, however, be carried out much sooner. Spending years on death row and never seeing an end to appeals is truly a travisty.

  2. That is my step dads dad and i know that had to have been a very devistating thing and we apologize. of course my step dad and his sister were little little kids when it happend my dad was 3. We didnt know or hear about it till years later.

  3. Sheri Says:

    My name is Sheri and this was my grandfather. I am sorry to the families that were left in the wake of his horrible crimes.. and I whole heartily believe he deserved his death this way.

  4. I was one of the five boys who was with James Bentley and Fred Waldo in Arizona when they robbed a gas station and attempted to kill the attendant I was About 13 years old at that time. James was no better than a mad dog and deserved the death sentence as he killed others besides the one he was convicted of he had no respect for life. The only thing I would say is Fred Waldo his partner should have shared the same fate.

  5. Jaime Says:

    How did he not share the same fate how did he get out of it??

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