Expositions /

History of Death Penalty in France (1789-1981)

Jean-Claude Farcy with Marc Renneville (Trans : Patricia Bass)

History of Death Penalty in France

“Look, examine, reflect. You hold capital punishment up as an example. Why? Because of what it teaches. And just what is it that you wish to teach by means of this example? That thou shalt not kill. And how do you teach that  "thou shalt not kill"? By killing.”
Victor Hugo, speech to the Constituent Assembly, September 15th, 1848.

The abolition of the death penalty in French penal legislation dates back to 1981, ending a long combat that lasted almost two centuries - from the Penal Code project submitted to the Constituent Assembly in 1791 until the law of October 9th 1981, which effectively abolished the death penalty.

For the 25th anniversary of the abolition of the death penalty, on October 10th 2006, Criminocorpus uploaded:
- The complete transcription of three parliamentary debates (1791, 1908 and 1981) on this subject
- A summarizing article: The death penalty in France: two centuries for one abolition. 1791-1981.
- A virtual exhibit

These resources consist of over two hundred pages of archival documents, news articles, drawings and caricatures, photographs, and reproductions of objects from the National Archives, the Archives of the Paris Prefecture of Police, the Museum of Living History of Montreuil, and the National Museum of Prisons.

In this printable guide (PDF), you can find a presentation of the different sections of the exhibit, a consultation guide, a detailed table of contents, a selection of works, and links to pertinent online sites.

In partnership with:
The National Museum of Prisons
The Museum of Living History in Montreuil

And with the participation of:
The Historical Center of the National Archives
The Archives of the Paris Police Prefecture