Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Leopold & Loeb

The Sentence

Leopold & Loeb escorted into Joliet State Prison
Leopold & Loeb escorted into Joliet State Prison

On Wednesday, September 19, 1924, Judge Caverly announced his decision. He agreed that a case could not be made for the boys being insane, however he stated that "they have been shown in essential respects to be abnormal; had they been normal they would not have committed the crime." He went on to recognize that the detailed reports of the alienists would be a valuable contribution to criminology.

"The testimony in this case reveals a crime of singular atrocity. It is in a sense, inexplicable; but it is not thereby rendered less inhuman or repulsive."

Caverly went on to summarize the possible penalties for murder and kidnapping before giving his sentence.

"It would have been the path of least resistance to impose the extreme penalty of the law. In choosing imprisonment instead of death, the court is moved chiefly by the consideration of the age of the defendants...Life imprisonment may not, at the moment, strike the public imagination as forcibly as would death by hanging; but to the offenders, particularly of the type they are, the prolonged suffering of years of confinement may well be the severer form of retribution and expiation.

Caverly urged the department of public welfare never to admit these defendants to parole.

"For the crime of murder, confinement at the penitentiary at Joliet for the term of their natural lives.

"For the crime of kidnapping for ransom, similar confinement for the term of ninety-nine years."

At the end of the trial, Jacob Franks had reversed his earlier call for hanging: "My wife and I never believed Nathan, Jr., and Richard should be hanged."


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