I am a writer where in my spy-novel, a character faces execution in the US, most likely by Lethal Injection, however, there are people in the government that want to speed the date of execution up than wait years that would typically follow for civilian death-row inmates. They would want to do this as 'legal' as possible due to the public nature of the case.

I've been looking around on the internet for relevant and credible information that could help determine minimum time but it's not clear due to state differences of capital punishments and methods. it can be quite contradictive as well since I've read that sometimes, it gets short when the defendant drops the appeals and the execution is carried out within a few months but I remain uncertain on if this is true, as another source said 5 years.

Which brings me to the question here, (not tied to any particular state as I can adjust the story to the answer), what is the shortest amount someone could hypothetically wait on death row before their execution?

This can include the by-request of the defendant, the dropping of an appeal and input of higher authorities.

  • in which year are we talking? The waiting time on the death penalty is dependant on when and which state/Jurisdiction we are talking. Eddie Leonsky was sentenced July 17, the sentence was confirmed twice in October. McArthur himself signed it on November 4th, and he was hung on the 9th. Note this was Wartime.
    – Trish
    Aug 28, 2020 at 21:28
  • For the 1950s, there were 10 military executions, some had as short as 2 years before execution, others are as long as 8 years. All 10 were hung. The question is not what is the shortest time, but it's what needs to be done to be allowed to give the execution order, which depends upon when, where and what circumstances.
    – Trish
    Aug 28, 2020 at 21:39
  • @Trish it would be set in 2019 era, the spy agency quickly became labelled as a terrorist organisation so agents probably aren't given civilian trials. The character would have been charged with four aggravated homicides, treason and espionage. If you're looking for a Where....maybe California, or texas but I'm flexible on where.
    – SKKennell
    Aug 29, 2020 at 4:40
  • 1
    An ancient but extreme example: Giuseppe Zangara shot Chicago mayor Anton Cermak on Feb 15, 1933 in Miami(He was aiming for President-elect F D Roosevelt) Zangara was convicted of four counts of attempted murder within days. Mayor Cermak died on March 6., Zangara plead guilty to a charge of murder on March 10, and was executed March 20, after 10 days on death row. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giuseppe_Zangara
    – DJohnM
    Aug 29, 2020 at 5:07
  • 1
    2019 era precludes quick execution... I suggest to choose a state in which the spy will be tried and ask about what legal framework has to be done to get to execution in that state?
    – Trish
    Aug 29, 2020 at 7:38


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