Reviewing The Bughouse: The Poetry, Politics and Madness of Ezra Pound by Daniel Swift, Robert Crawford claims that “Pound was lucky not to be executed as a traitor.” In theory, the death penalty was applicable but in practice, how many people have been executed for treason in the US? Not espionage, sabotage or sedition but treason? Zero, I think.
On the other hand, a decade in a federal prison could not be ruled out. Was the psychiatric ward preferable before the experience? Pound’s doctors at St. Elizabeth’s were good to him, but such treatment was by no means guaranteed at any time. All in all, this was an acceptable fix for all the parties involved. Whether Pound was insane or not, he would have appeared unhinged at his trial, embarrassing the prosecutors.