Caryl Chessman

Convicted robber, kidnapper and rapist, writer

Caryl Whittier Chessman (May 27, 1921May 2, 1960) was a convicted robber and rapist who served time on death row and was executed in the state of California.


  • I think my greatest usefulness lies in what I've had the opportunity to demonstrate -that the most "hopeless" criminal in existence can be salvaged; that he's worth salvaging, on both humanitarian and hard-headed social grounds. Retributive justice and the execution chamber aren't the answer. In seeking a solution to the crime problem, I believe that vision can and should be substituted for vengeance. I'm convinced that there is much that is narrow and negative and wrong in society's attitude toward and treatment of the man who is said to be at "war" with it, and who often is at war with himself.
    • Caryl Chessman, Cell 2455, Death Row, New Jersey, 1960, p. 372

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