Half of All Death Row Inmates are in One of Three States

Almost half of all death row inmates are held in three states within the United States. At present, The U.S. has approximately 2628 total death row inmates. Almost half of these inmates are held in California, Florida, and Texas. As of October 7, 2020, California had 711 death row inmates. Florida currently has 346 death row inmates. Texas currently has 209 death row inmates.

Current State of Executions

Overall, the number of executions carried out each year remains low. In 2019, 22 state prisoners were executed, with 9 of those executions occurring in Texas. 2018 saw 25 state executions with 13 of those occurring in Texas. Florida had 2 state executions in 2019 and 2 in 2018. California, which houses the most death row inmates, has not had an execution since 2006. It has a moratorium on the death penalty.

2020 also marks the first Federal execution in 17 years. Attorney General Bill Barr is a vocal proponent of the death penalty. Daniel Lewis Lee was executed On July 14, 2020 for the murder of a family Six other federal prisoners have been executed since then.

Support For the Death Penalty

As of a 2018 Pew Research report, 54% of Americans are in favor of using the death penalty in cases of murder. This represents a slight increase over 2016 figures, which saw 49% in support of the death penalty.  Support for the death penalty tends to fall out along party lines. Democrats and Independents have shown a falling rate of support for the death penalty since the 1990s. Support for the death penalty remains strong among Republicans in general.

Death Penalty Inmates: Statistical Portraits

Most of the death row inmates in the U.S are male, with an average age of 50. 46% of death row inmates do not have a high school diploma. And while black inmates represent 42% of the death row population, they are less likely to be executed than are white death row inmates according to 2018 statistics. In that year, 1 in 77 white death row inmates were executed, while 1in 182 black death row inmates were executed.

Status of the Death Penalty in 2020

As of 2020, 22 states do not have a death penalty. These states include:

  • Alaska 
  • Colorado 
  • Connecticut 
  • Delaware 
  • Hawaii 
  • Illinois 
  • Iowa 
  • Maine 
  • Maryland 
  • Massachusetts 
  • Michigan 
  • Minnesota 
  • New Hampshire 
  • New Jersey 
  • New Mexico 
  • New York 
  • North Dakota 
  • Rhode Island 
  • Vermont 
  • Washington 
  • West Virginia 
  • Wisconsin 

The District of Columbia has abolished its death penalty. The states of California, Oregon and Pennsylvania have a moratorium on the death penalty. All other states – including Arizona – continue to impose the death penalty.

Executions Few and Far Between, But Inmates Spend Years Behind Bars

Despite the large number of inmates on death row in the United States, execution numbers each year tend to be low. Justice grinds slowly. Many inmates die of other causes while waiting for execution. A death row inmate can spend as little as 10 years, or as many as 20 years incarcerated awaiting execution.

The length of time between incarceration and exoneration of a prisoner is growing. Over half of the exonerations between since 2013 have taken over 25 years. This has implications for the inmates, their families, society, and our prison system. Many of these inmates spend years in what amounts to solitary confinement. The death row population is also aging. Many of these death row inmates are now seniors who must remain separated from the general population and from geriatric services. We are executing senior citizens.




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