"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." - Oscar Wilde

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

U.S. States Ranked by the Highest Number of Death Row Inmates

Mississippi death chamber
Mississippi death chamber
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders have made criminal justice reform a key campaign issue in their party’s race for the presidential nomination. After an early February Democratic debate dove into aspects of the topic, Newsweek pointed out that little separates the two when it comes to criminal justice reform.

But a difference arises when looking at the death penalty. During the February debate, Clinton said she supports capital punishment “for very limited, particularly heinous crimes … but I deeply disagree with the way that too many states are still implementing it.” When posed with a similar question, Sanders said that for perpetrators of these types of crimes, “you lock them up, and you toss away the key. They’re never going to get out. But, I just don’t want to see government be part of killing. That’s all.”

As the visualization shows, Sanders’ position puts him more in line with Democrats, while Clinton’s perspective aligns with Independents and Republicans. Overall, data from a 2015 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center indicated that while the majority of Americans are in favor of the death penalty for people convicted of murder, support has decreased in recent years.

In 1996, 78 percent of Americans supported the death penalty, according to Pew’s report. By 2011, that number went down to 62 percent. The 2015 study found 56 percent of Americans support capital punishment.

In the U.S., 31 states have the death penalty. In 2015, Nebraska became the 19th state to end capital punishment when lawmakers voted to abolish the practice — and then voted to override the governor’s veto of the measure. However, supporters of capital punishment in the state gathered enough signatures to suspend the new rule and get a statewide referendum put on the ballot. Nebraska voters will decide in November 2016 whether their state will have the death penalty.

Since 1976, 1,432 executions have been carried out, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. In 1999, there were 98 executions, the most in one year. That number has decreased significantly since then, with 28 taking place in 2015. This year, 10 executions have been carried out so far. The Marshall Project, a nonpartisan news organization covering criminal justice, tracks the state-by-state schedule of upcoming executions as part of its Next to Die endeavor. According to its assessment, the next executions are slated to take place in Georgia, Texas and Missouri.

With a decent amount of controversy and politicking surrounding the issue, Graphiq politics site InsideGov wanted to find out more about the data surrounding death row inmates. Using data from the Death Penalty Information Center, InsideGov examined the 31 states where capital punishment exists and ranked them by the number of inmates currently on death row. Although states with larger populations are toward the top of the list, it’s worth noting that smaller states like Alabama and Louisiana are fairly high up.

We’ve also included the racial breakdown of each state’s death row inmates, as well as the number of people executed in each state since 1976, when the Supreme Court effectively re-instated the death penalty with Gregg v. Georgia after a four-year pause. In 1972, the court found that the death penalty violated the Eighth and 14th Amendments in Furman v. Georgia, but reversed itself in the 1976 case.

In the event that states have the same number of death row inmates, we used the number of executions since 1976 to break the tie on this list.

#33. New Hampshire

Total Number of Death Row Inmates: 1

Total Number of Death Row Inmates Executed Since 1976: 0

#32. Wyoming

Total Number of Death Row Inmates: 1

Total Number of Death Row Inmates Executed Since 1976: 1

#31. New Mexico

Total Number of Death Row Inmates: 2

Total Number of Death Row Inmates Executed Since 1976: 1

*Note: In 2009, then-Gov. Bill Richardson, D-N.M., signed a law repealing the death penalty in his state. The legislation, which replaced capital punishment with a life sentence without the possibility of parole, did not address how to handle those on death row at the time. As a result, 2 men are still on death row in New Mexico.

#30. Montana

Total Number of Death Row Inmates: 2

Total Number of Death Row Inmates Executed Since 1976: 3

#29. Colorado

Total Number of Death Row Inmates: 3

Total Number of Death Row Inmates Executed Since 1976: 1

#28. South Dakota

Total Number of Death Row Inmates: 3

Total Number of Death Row Inmates Executed Since 1976: 5

#27. Virginia

Total Number of Death Row Inmates: 7

Total Number of Death Row Inmates Executed Since 1976: 116

#26. Idaho

Total Number of Death Row Inmates: 9

Total Number of Death Row Inmates Executed Since 1976: 5

#25. Washington

Total Number of Death Row Inmates: 9

Total Number of Death Row Inmates Executed Since 1976: 5

#24. Utah

Total Number of Death Row Inmates: 9

Total Number of Death Row Inmates Executed Since 1976: 8

#23. Kansas

Total Number of Death Row Inmates: 10

Total Number of Death Row Inmates Executed Since 1976: 0

#22. Nebraska

Total Number of Death Row Inmates: 10

Total Number of Death Row Inmates Executed Since 1976: 3

*Note: In 2015, Nebraska lawmakers voted to abolish the death penalty. However, supporters of capital punishment in the state gathered enough signatures to suspend the new rule and get a statewide referendum put on the ballot. Nebraska voters will decide in November 2016 whether their state will have the death penalty.

#21. Indiana

Total Number of Death Row Inmates: 13

Total Number of Death Row Inmates Executed Since 1976: 21

#20. Delaware

Total Number of Death Row Inmates: 18

Total Number of Death Row Inmates Executed Since 1976: 17

#19. Missouri

Total Number of Death Row Inmates: 28

Total Number of Death Row Inmates Executed Since 1976: 107

#18. Oregon

Total Number of Death Row Inmates: 34

Total Number of Death Row Inmates Executed Since 1976: 2

*Note: The race of 1 person on death row in Oregon is not currently identified, so the demographic breakdown in the accompanying visualization totals 33.

#17. Kentucky

Total Number of Death Row Inmates: 34

Total Number of Death Row Inmates Executed Since 1976: 3

#16. Arkansas

Total Number of Death Row Inmates: 36

Total Number of Death Row Inmates Executed Since 1976: 27

#15. South Carolina

Total Number of Death Row Inmates: 43

Total Number of Death Row Inmates Executed Since 1976: 44

#14. Mississippi

Total Number of Death Row Inmates: 48

Total Number of Death Row Inmates Executed Since 1976: 27

#13. Oklahoma

Total Number of Death Row Inmates: 49

Total Number of Death Row Inmates Executed Since 1976: 131

#12. Tennessee

Total Number of Death Row Inmates: 71

Total Number of Death Row Inmates Executed Since 1976: 6

#11. Georgia

Total Number of Death Row Inmates: 78

Total Number of Death Row Inmates Executed Since 1976: 68

#10. Nevada

Total Number of Death Row Inmates: 79

Total Number of Death Row Inmates Executed Since 1976: 13

#9. Louisiana

Total Number of Death Row Inmates: 81

Total Number of Death Row Inmates Executed Since 1976: 29

#8. Arizona

Total Number of Death Row Inmates: 125

Total Number of Death Row Inmates Executed Since 1976: 46

#7. Ohio

Total Number of Death Row Inmates: 143

Total Number of Death Row Inmates Executed Since 1976: 62

#6. North Carolina

Total Number of Death Row Inmates: 155

Total Number of Death Row Inmates Executed Since 1976: 50

#5. Pennsylvania

Total Number of Death Row Inmates: 180

Total Number of Death Row Inmates Executed Since 1976: 3

#4. Alabama

Total Number of Death Row Inmates: 196

Total Number of Death Row Inmates Executed Since 1976: 59

#3. Texas

Total Number of Death Row Inmates: 263

Total Number of Death Row Inmates Executed Since 1976: 591

#2. Florida

Total Number of Death Row Inmates: 396 

Total Number of Death Row Inmates Executed Since 1976: 114

#1. California

Total Number of Death Row Inmates: 743

Total Number of Death Row Inmates Executed Since 1976: 14

Source: sfgate.com, April 5, 2016

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