Death Penalty Facts and Figures

The death penalty, also known as capital punishment, is the practice of executing individuals for crimes they have committed. It is a controversial issue that has been debated for centuries, with some advocating for it as a deterrent to crime, while others argue that it is inhumane and ineffective. In the United States, the death penalty is legal in 28 states, while 22 states have abolished it. Globally, around 106 countries have abolished the death penalty in law or practice, while 58 countries retain it.

Number of Defendants Executed 2018-2022

2018: 25 people were executed.
2019: 22 people were executed.
2020: 17 people were executed.
2021: 11 people were executed.
2022: 18 people were executed.

So far in 2023, 3 people have been executed. The records go back to 1976 and there’s been 1561 executions since then.

Race of Defendants Executed

Source: Death Penalty Info
White869 people
Black532 people
Latinx130 people
Other30 people
Source: Death Penalty Info

Race of Victims in Death Penalty Cases

In capital punishment cases where the death penalty was carried out, more than 75% of the murdered individuals were white, while only 50% of murder victims nationally are white.

Innocence on Death Row

According to a 1993 report by the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Civil & Constitutional Rights, with updates by the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC), over 185 individuals have been exonerated from death row since 1973 due to evidence of their innocence.

Since 1973, on average, 3.94 death-row prisoners who were wrongly convicted have been exonerated each year.

Source: Death Penalty Info
Source: Death Penalty Info

Death Row Prisoners by Race

Source: Death Penalty Info

Death Row Prisoners by State (April 1st 2022)

According to the Legal Defense Fund’s “Death Row USA” report as of April 1, 2022, the race of death row prisoners and the number of death row prisoners by state are provided. The combined state totals may be slightly higher than the reported national total due to a few prisoners who were sentenced to death in multiple states, and therefore appear in each state’s totals but only once in the national total.

Source: Death Penalty Info

Death Sentencing By Year

2010114 Death Sentences
201185 Death Sentences
201282 Death Sentences
201383 Death Sentences
201474 Death Sentences
201549 Death Sentences
201631 Death Sentences
201739 Death Sentences
201843 Death Sentences
201934 Death Sentences
202018 Death Sentences
202118 Death Sentences
202220 Death Sentences
Source: Death Penalty Info

Mental Disabilities

Intellectual Disabilities: In the 2002 case of Atkins v. Virginia, the Supreme Court ruled that executing defendants with intellectual disabilities, also known as “mental retardation,” is unconstitutional.

Mental Illness: The American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, and the American Bar Association have supported resolutions calling for an exemption from the death penalty for individuals with severe mental illness.


A 2012 report by the National Research Council, titled “Deterrence and the Death Penalty,” concluded that studies claiming the death penalty serves as a deterrent to murder are “fundamentally flawed” and should not be used as a basis for making policy decisions.

A DPIC study of 30 years of FBI Uniform Crime Report homicide data found that the South
has consistently had by far the highest murder rate. The South accounts for more than
80% of executions. The Northeast, which has fewer than 0.5% of all executions, has consistently had the lowest murder rate.

According to a survey of former and current presidents of the leading academic criminological societies, 88% of these experts disagreed with the idea that the death penalty serves as a deterrent to murder.

Methods Used

Lethal injection is the primary method of carrying out the death penalty in 30 states and the US government. Some of these states have alternative methods as backups. New Hampshire abolished the death penalty in 2019, however, the change in law was not retroactive, leaving one prisoner still on death row and the lethal injection protocol in place.

Lethal Injection1381 People
Electrocution 163 People
Gas Chamber11 People
Hanging3 People
Firing Squad3 People
Source: Death Penalty Info


In 2005, the Supreme Court ruling in Roper v. Simmons declared the death penalty for juveniles unconstitutional. Prior to this ruling, 22 defendants were executed for crimes committed as juveniles since 1976.


As of October 1, 2021, 51 women were on death row, which makes up 2.08% of the overall death row population, according to the Legal Defense Fund. 17 women have been executed since 1976.

Botched Executions

Botched executions happen when there are issues or deviations from the established “protocol” for a specific method of execution. The protocol can be based on the norms, expectations, and advertised benefits of each method, or on the government’s official execution guidelines. Botched executions are defined as those that cause unnecessary suffering for the prisoner or display significant incompetence by the executioner. Some examples of such problems include inmates catching fire during electrocution, being strangled instead of having their necks broken during hangings, and being given incorrect dosages of drugs during lethal injections.

MethodTotal ExecutionsBotched ExecutionsBotched Execution Rate
Lethal Gas593325.4%
Lethal Injection1,054757.12%
Firing Squad3400%
All Methods8,7762763.15%
Source: Death Penalty Info

Crimes That You Can Get The Death Penalty For

8 U.S.C. § 1342(B)(iv)Bringing in and harboring certain aliens resulting in death.
18 U.S.C. §§ 32-34Destruction of aircraft, motor vehicles, or related facilities resulting in death.
18 U.S.C. § 36Murder committed during a drug-related drive-by shooting.
18 U.S.C. § 37Murder committed at an airport serving international civil aviation.
18 U.S.C. § 115(b)(3)
[by cross-reference
to 18 U.S.C. § 1111]
Retaliatory murder of a member of the immediate family of law enforcement officials.
18 U.S.C. §§ 241,
242, 245, 247
Civil rights offenses resulting in death.
18 U.S.C. § 351
[by cross-reference
to 18 U.S.C. § 1111]
Murder of a member of Congress, an important executive official, or a Supreme Court Justice.
18 U.S.C. § 794Espionage.
18 U.S.C. § 844(d), (f), (i)Death resulting from offenses involving transportation of explosives, destruction of government property, or destruction of property related to foreign or interstate commerce.
18 U.S.C. § 924(i)Murder committed by the use of a firearm during a crime of violence or a drug-trafficking crime.
18 U.S.C. § 930Murder committed in a Federal Government facility.
18 U.S.C. § 1091Genocide.
18 U.S.C. § 1111First Degree Murder.
18 U.S.C. § 1114Murder of a Federal judge or Federal law enforcement official.
18 U.S.C. § 1116Murder of a foreign official.
18 U.S.C. § 1118Murder by a federal prisoner.
18 U.S.C. § 1119Murder of a U.S. national in a foreign country.
18 U.S.C. § 1120Murder by an escaped Federal prisoner already sentenced to life imprisonment.
18 U.S.C. § 1121Murder of a State or local law enforcement official or other person aiding in a Federal investigation; murder of a State correctional officer.
18 U.S.C. § 1201 [by cross-reference
to 18 U.S.C. § 1111]
Kidnapping resulting in death.
18 U.S.C. § 1203 [by cross-reference
to 18 U.S.C. § 1111
Hostage-taking resulting in death.
18 U.S.C. § 1503Murder of a court officer or juror.
18 U.S.C. § 1512Murder with the intent of preventing testimony by a witness, victim, or informant.
18 U.S.C. § 1513Retaliatory murder of a witness, victim, or informant.
18 U.S.C. § 1716Mailing of injurious articles resulting in death.
18 U.S.C. § 1751
[by cross-reference
to 18 U.S.C. § 1111
Assassination of the President, Vice President, or member of their staff or kidnapping resulting in their death.
18 U.S.C. § 1958Murder-for-hire involving the use of interstate commerce facilities.
18 U.S.C. § 1959Murder in furtherance of racketeering activity.
18 U.S.C. § 1992Terrorist attack on railroad carrier or mass transportation vehicle resulting in death.
18 U.S.C. § 2119Carjacking resulting in death.
18 U.S.C. § 2245Murder committed during the course of child sex trafficking, child pornography, interstate transportation of a minor or other person for criminal sexual activity.
18 U.S.C. § 2251Conduct during the course of child sexual trafficking, child pornography, or the sexual exploitation of children that results in death.
18 U.S.C. § 2280Murder or other offense against maritime navigation resulting in death.
18 U.S.C. § 2281Murder or other offense committed against a maritime fixed platform resulting in death.
18 U.S.C. § 2332 [by cross-reference
to 18 U.S.C. § 1111]
Terrorist murder of a U.S. national in another country.
18 U.S.C. § 2332aUse of a weapon of mass destruction resulting in death.
18 U.S.C. § 2332bActs of terrorism in the United States resulting in death, committed by a person engaged in conduct that transcends national boundaries.
18 U.S.C. § 2340, 2340ATorture resulting in death committed outside the United States by a U.S. national or by a foreign national present in the U.S.
18 U.S.C. § 2381Treason.
21 U.S.C. § 848(e)Murder related to a continuing criminal enterprise or drug trafficking offense, or drug-related murder of a Federal, State, or local law enforcement officer.
49 U.S.C. §§ 46502Aircraft piracy resulting in death.
18 U.S.C. § 2113Murder during a bank robbery or bank-robbery-related kidnapping resulting in death.
Source: Death Info Penalty

Although not mentioned by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, there are other offenses under federal law that are punishable by death. However, it is unclear if the death penalty would be constitutional for these offenses, as per Kennedy v. Louisiana (2008), as they do not involve murder. These offenses include:

  • Trafficking in large amounts of drugs (18 U.S.C. § 3591(b))
  • Attempting, authorizing, or advising the killing of any official, juror, or witness in cases related to a Continuing Criminal Enterprise, regardless of whether the killing takes place (18 U.S.C. § 3591(b)(2))
Source for all of this post is Death Penalty Info.

You can read more Death Penalty Stuff Here.

Love, Bee xx

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