Statistics: Death Sentences, Capital Case Costs, And Executions
STATISTICS: DEATH SENTENCES, CAPITAL CASE COSTS, AND EXECUTIONS
UNDER PENALTY OF DEATH
In Capital Punishment, 2005 (December 2006, http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/cp05.pdf), Tracy L. Snell of the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) reports that at year-end 2005 a total of 3,254 prisoners were held under the sentence of death in federal and state prisons. The vast majority (3,217) of the inmates were state prisoners held in thirty-six states. Two death penalty states—New Hampshire and Kansas—did not report any inmates under the sentence of death. The thirteen states with the most death row inmates are listed in Table 6.1. Three states accounted for more than 40% of death row prisoners: California (646), Texas (411), and Florida (372).
Figure 6.1 graphically shows the number of people under the sentence of death between 1955 and 2005. Between 1976, when the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty, and 2000, the number of prisoners on death row increased each year. Since 2000 the total number of death row inmates has declined.
Snell notes that in 2005, 24 states reported their prisons received 122 people under the sentence of death. The federal Bureau of Prisons received six inmates. All the state and federal inmates were convicted of murder. The states receiving the most death row inmates were California (twenty-three), Florida (fifteen), Texas (four-teen), Alabama (twelve), and Arizona (eight). According to Snell, death row admissions declined fairly steadily between 1995 and 2005. (See Table 6.2.) In 1995 state and federal prisons received 325 inmates. The 2005 admission of 128 inmates was the lowest number since 1973, when 44 people entered death row.
Snell indicates that at year-end 2005, 45% of all death row inmates were white and 42% were African-American. (See Figure 6.2.) Hispanic prisoners (who may be of any race) accounted for 11% of those under a death sentence. Other races represented 2% of death row inmates.
According to Snell, men comprised 98% of the total inmates on death row at year-end 2005. As shown in Table 6.3, only fifty-two women were under the sentence of death, most in California (fourteen), Texas (nine), and Pennsylvania (five).
Victor L. Streib of Ohio Northern University has been compiling information on female offenders and the death penalty in the United States since 1984. In Death Penalty for Female Offenders: January 1, 1973, through June 30, 2007 (July 13, 2007, http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/FemDeathJune2007.pdf), Streib states that between 1973 and June 30, 2007, 160 females had been sentenced to death in the United States.
Characteristics of Prisoners
The BJS collects additional demographic information on death row inmates. Snell indicates that at year-end 2005 the median age of those under the sentence of death was forty-one years (this means that half of the inmates were younger than forty-one and half were older than that age). (See Table 6.4.) Nearly two-thirds (61%) were aged twenty-five to forty-four, and one-third (33%) were between thirty and thirty-nine years old. One inmate was under age twenty, and 110 inmates were sixty and older. The youngest inmate was twenty years old and was sentenced to death in October 2005. The oldest was ninety, having been sentenced in June 1983 at the age of sixty-eight. Half of all inmates under the sentence of death were aged twenty to twenty-nine when they were arrested for their capital offense.
Among those for whom information about education was available as of December 31, 2005, 39.6% had graduated from high school and only 9.2% had any college education. (See Table 6.5.) The median level of education was the eleventh grade. Most (54.4%) had never married, and about one-fifth (20.5%) were divorced or separated.
|Number of prisoners under sentence of death, December 31, 2005|
|24 other jurisdictions||475|
Criminal History of Death Row Inmates
According to Snell, among prisoners on death row, nearly two-thirds (65%) had prior felony convictions.
|Inmates received under sentence of death, 1995–2005|
(See Table 6.6.) About one out of twelve (8.4%) had been previously convicted of murder or manslaughter. About two out of five (39.9%) had an active criminal justice record at the time of the murder for which they were condemned. Just over 16% of inmates were on parole at the time of their capital offense.
Criminal history patterns varied slightly by race and Hispanic origin. African-Americans (70.3%) had somewhat more prior felony convictions than whites (61.6%)
|Women under sentence of death, by race, December 31, 2005|
|*Includes races other than white and black.|
and Hispanics (61.3%). African-Americans (8.7%) and whites (8.4%) had a higher proportion of prior homicide convictions than Hispanics (7.3%). Hispanics (22.6%) and African-Americans (16.7%) were more likely than
|Age at time of arrest for capital offense and age of prisoners under sentence of death, December 31, 2005|
|Prisoners under sentence of death|
|At time of arrest||On December 31, 2005|
|Note: The youngest person under sentence of death was a black male in Alabama, born in May 1985 and sentenced to death in October 2005. The oldest person under sentence of death was a white male in Arizona, born in September 1915 and sentenced to death in June 1983.|
|*Excludes 269 inmates for whom the date of arrest for capital offense was not available.|
|Total number under
sentence of death on 12/31/05
|17 or younger||14||0.5||0|
|65 or older||2||0.1||52||1.6|
|Mean age||28 yrs.||42 yrs.|
|Median age||27 yrs.||41 yrs.|
|Demographic characteristics of prisoners under sentence of death, 2005|
|Percent of prisoners under
sentence of death, 2005
|Note: Calculations are based on those cases for which data were reported. Detail may not add to total due to rounding. Missing data by category were as follows:|
|*At yearend 2004, other races consisted of 28 American Indians, 32 Asians, and 14 self-identified Hispanics. During 2005, 3 American Indians and 3 Asians were admitted; and 1 Asian and 2 self-identified Hispanic inmates were removed.|
|Total number under sentence of death||3,254||128||194|
|All other races*||2.4||4.7||1.5|
|8th grade or less||14.3%||9.9%||24.1%|
|High school graduate/GED||39.6||48.5||29.5|
whites (14.1%) to be on parole when arrested for their capital crime. (See Table 6.6.)
A Long Wait
It can be a long wait on death row. Table 6.7 shows the average length of time prisoners spent under the sentence of death before they were executed between 1977 and 2005. The average time between the imposition of the death sentence and the execution was 125 months (10 years and 5 months). White prisoners waited an average of 123 months (10 years and 3 months) and African-American prisoners waited an average of 131 months (10 years and 11 months) before their execution. Snell indicates that of the 60 inmates executed in 2005, the average length of time they had been on death row was 128 months (10 years and 8 months).
Table 6.8 lists the average number of years inmates spent on death row in various states as of December 31,2005. The longest time reported was in Idaho (13.7 years), followed by Nevada (13.2 years), Florida (12.7 years), Tennessee (12.5 years), and California (12 years). Snell reports that Idaho had eighteen prisoners under the sentence of death at the end of 2005. Of the three states with the highest death row populations at year-end 2005—California, Texas, and Florida—Texas reported the shortest average number of years under the sentence of death (8.8 years).
Getting off Death Row
A number of prisoners are removed from death row each year for reasons other than execution: resentencing, retrial, commutation (replacement of the death sentence with a lesser sentence), or death while awaiting execution (natural death, murder, or suicide). As Figure 6.3 shows, 7,662 people received a death sentence between 1973 and 2005. Of these, more than 35% had their sentence or conviction overturned, 13% were executed, 4% died of other causes, and 4% had their sentence commuted.
Table 6.9 provides a breakdown of death sentences and removals by state. California had the largest number (fifty) of death row inmates who died of causes other than execution, followed by Florida (forty-one), Texas (thirty-two), Alabama (twenty), and Ohio (nineteen). Of the 2,702 prisoners who had their sentence of conviction overturned, the highest numbers were in Florida (414), North Carolina (281), Oklahoma (153), Texas (144), and Georgia (141).
COSTS OF THE DEATH PENALTY
Many death penalty proponents believe that capital punishment costs the taxpayers less than a life sentence without parole. However, several studies indicate that the death penalty costs more than life imprisonment without parole. For example, Hugo Adam Bedau, in The Case against the Death Penalty (1997), finds that a ''murder trial normally takes longer when the death penalty is at issue than when it is not. Litigation costs—including the time of judges, prosecutors, public defenders, and court reporters, and the high costs of briefs—are mostly borne by the taxpayer.''
After combing through state and federal records, Rone Tempest notes in ''Death Row Often Means a Long Life'' (Los Angeles Times, March 6, 2005) that the death penalty system in California costs taxpayers more than $114 million each year. This amount is more than what it would cost to imprison California's 640 death row inmates for life without parole. Every year, the state spends approximately $57.5 million ($90,000 per prisoner) simply by housing these inmates on death row, where they live in a private cell and are surrounded by more guards than normal prisoners. Huge costs are also incurred during executions. Since
|Criminal history profile of prisoners under sentence of death, by race and Hispanic origin, 2005|
|Number of prisoners
under sentence of death
|Percent of prisoners
under sentence of deatha
|All b||White c||Black c||Hispanic||All b||White c||Black c||Hispanic|
|aPercentages are based on those offenders for whom data were reported. Detail may not add to total because of rounding.|
|aIncludes American Indians, Alaska Natives, Asians, Native Hawaiians, and other Pacific Islanders.|
|aWhite and black categories exclude Hispanics.|
|Prior felony convictions|
|Prior homicide convictions|
|Legal status at time of capital offense|
California reinstated its death penalty in 1978, eleven people have been executed. Each of these executions cost taxpayers approximately $250 million. The death penalty has also burdened the courts. According to Ronald George, the chief justice of the California Supreme Court, the court spent 20% of its resources on capital cases. In the end, the state still did not have enough money to appoint lawyers to 115 death row inmates for their first direct appeal.
In Washington's Death Penalty System: A Review of the Costs, Length, and Results of Capital Cases in Washington State (November 2004, http://www.abolishdeathpenalty.org/PDF/WAStateDeathPenaltySystem.pdf), Mark A. Larranaga and Donna Mustard review costs incurred under Washington's capital punishment system between 1999 and 2003. Larranaga and Mustard find that on average a non-death penalty trial costs half as much as a death penalty trial. One estimate reveals that a death penalty trial cost about $432,000 and that a non-death penalty trial cost approximately $153,000. Capital punishment trials also take much longer than normal criminal trials. A typical death penalty trial lasts roughly twenty months, compared to fifteen months for a non-death penalty trial. A death penalty appellate review takes on average seven years, whereas a non-death penalty review takes about two years.
Despite the exorbitant costs of death penalty trials, few people sentenced to death in Washington have actually been executed. Between 1981—the year Washington reinstated capital punishment—and 2003 thirty-one death sentences were handed down in the state. Twenty-one convicts completed their appellate review by 2003, and nine were still awaiting their reviews. Of those convicts who received their review, seventeen had their death sentences reversed after an average of 6.9 years in the appeals process. Three of the remaining four offenders were executed after effectively waiving their appellate review. Only one person was executed after exhausting all options, which took eleven years.
In Performance Audit Report: Costs Incurred for Death Penalty Cases (December 2003, http://www.ksle_gislature.org/postaudit/audits_perform/04pa03a.pdf), the state of Kansas finds that death penalty murder cases cost an average of $1.2 million from when the murder investigation begins to when the sentence is carried out. Murder cases where the death penalty is neither sought nor given cost $740,000.
The state itemizes these costs for each stage of a death penalty case. The cost of investigating a case in which the defendant is sentenced to death is $145,000, compared to $66,000 for a death penalty case in which the defendant receives a lesser sentence and $47,000 for a non-death penalty case. The average price tag for a trial that results in a death sentence is nearly sixteen times greater than for a non-death penalty trial ($508,000 as
|Time under sentence of death, by race, 1977–2005|
|Average elapsed time from
sentence to execution for:
|Year of execution||All races a||White b||Black b|
|Note: Average time was calculated from the most recent sentencing date.|
|aIncludes American Indians, Alaska Natives, Asians, Native Hawaiians, and other Pacific Islanders.|
|Total||125 mo||123 mo||131 mo|
|1977–83||51 mo||49 mo||58 mo|
opposed to $32,000), and the appeal is twenty-one times greater ($401,000 as opposed to $19,000). Keeping a convict on death row in Kansas costs roughly half as much as detaining a murderer for whom the death penalty is never sought ($350,000 versus $659,000). Kansas, however, did not have a large death row population at the time the study was performed. Only six inmates were on death row in December 2003. As of November 2007, that number had increased to nine, but no one had been executed in Kansas since the death penalty was reinstated in 1994.
In Study Pursuant to Public Act No. 01-151 of the Imposition of the Death Penalty in Connecticut (January 8, 2003, http://www.cga.ct.gov/olr/Death%20Penalty%20_Commission%20Final%20Report.pdf), Connecticut's Commission on the Death Penalty addresses the cost of prosecuting capital cases. As of January 2002 Connecticut had seven death row inmates and had not executed any. The last execution occurred in 1960. Because Connecticut has not carried out an execution, the commission did not present any comparison between the cost of implementing the death penalty and keeping an inmate in prison without the possibility of parole. Nonetheless, the commission was
|Average number of years under sentence of death, December 31, 2005|
|State||Average number of
years under sentence
of death, 12/31/05
|Note: For those persons sentenced to death more than once, the numbers are based on the most recent death sentence.|
|*Averages not calculated for fewer than 10 inmates.|
able to illustrate the defense costs for defendants sentenced to death (following trial and sentencing), compared to the defense costs incurred by defendants receiving life imprisonment without parole (also following trial and sentencing).
The commission reviewed the cases of the seven men on death row from 1973 to 2002. The defense costs ranged from nearly $102,000 to $1.1 million, with an average cost of about $380,000 per case. The prisoners serving life sentences without parole included those incarcerated from 1989 to 2001. Their defense costs ranged from $86,000 to $321,000, with an average cost of about $202,000 per inmate. Between 2005 and 2006 the Connecticut Division
of Public Defender Services reports in ''Cost of Public Defender Services: Cost Attributable to the Death Penalty'' (February 16, 2007, http://www.ocpd.state.ct.us/Content/Annual2006/2006Chap4.htm) that it spent approximately $2.6 million for capital cases.
In ''Capital Punishment Proves to Be Expensive'' (New York Law Journal, April 30, 2002), Daniel Wise investigates the costs of the death penalty in New York since its reinstatement in 1995. Between 1995 and 2001 defense costs had amounted to $68.4 million by that time. No national system is in place to track prosecution costs; however, the state Division of Criminal Justice Services paid counties that prosecuted capital cases $5.1 million between 1995 and 2001. Each year the allocation for the New York Court of Appeals increased by more than $533,000 to allow for the salary of an extra clerk for each of the seven judges. The New York Prosecutors Training Institute, which assists district lawyers in capital cases, costs $1.2 million annually to operate. The defense for Darrel Harris, the first person to be sentenced to death under New York's 1995 law, had spent about $1.7 million, and the Capital Defender Office spent $1.2 million just to prepare the brief. (Harris's conviction was subsequently ruled unconstitutional.) The Department of Correctional Services spent $1.3 million to construct a new death row, allocating another $300,000 annually to guard it.
Federal Death Penalty Costs
Since the passage of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (also known as the Federal Death Penalty Act), the number of federal prosecutions, including crimes punishable by death, has risen. The Subcommittee on Federal Death Penalty Cases of the Judicial Conference Committee on Defender Services, in Federal Death Penalty Cases: Recommendations Concerning the Cost and Quality of Defense Representation (May 1998, http://www.uscourts.gov/dpenalty/2TABLE.htm), estimates that about 560 federal death penalty cases were filed between 1991 and 1997. The numbers increased each year. In 1991 there were 12 cases, rising nearly tenfold to 118 in 1995, and reaching 159 and 153 cases in 1996 and 1997, respectively.
Even though the decision to charge a crime punishable by death is made by the local federal prosecutor, the U.S. attorney general alone authorizes the seeking of the death penalty. Between 1988 and December 1997 the U.S. attorney general authorized seeking capital punishment in 111 cases. The attorney general's decision to authorize seeking the death penalty makes a substantial difference in the cost of representing a defendant. According to the Committee on Defender Services, from 1990 to 1997 the average total cost (for counsel and related services) per representation of a sample of cases in which the defendant was charged with noncapital homicide was $9,159. In contrast, in those cases in which the defendant was charged with an offense punishable by death and the attorney general authorized seeking the death penalty, the average cost was $218,113. This included cases resolved by a guilty plea as well as cases resolved by a trial. In contrast, the average total cost per representation in which the defendant was charged with an offense punishable by death where the attorney general did not authorize seeking the death penalty was $55,773. According to Ian F. Fergusson and Susan B. Epstein of the Congressional Research Service, in Appropriations for FY2005: Commerce, Justice, State, the Judiciary, and Related Agencies (January 12, 2005, http://digital._library.unt.edu/govdocs/crs/permalink/meta-crs-7885:1), the budget for Defender Services had risen from $624.1 million in 2004 to $676.4 million in 2005, an increase of 8.4%.
The decision whether to go to trial or to enter a guilty plea also affects the cost of representing the alleged offender. During the study period 1988 to 1997, of the 111 cases in which the attorney general sought the death sentence, 41 were tried for capital charges. Cases that ended in capital trials cost an average of $269,139, compared to $192,333 for cases resolved with a guilty plea.
Because a death penalty case differs from other cases in that a defendant's life is at stake, the defense generally devotes more time to the case. One time-consuming
|Number sentenced to death and number of removals, by jurisdiction and reason for removal, 1973–2005|
|Number of removals, 1973–2005|
|State||Total sentenced to
|Executed||Dled||Sentence or conviction
|Under sentence of
|Note: For those persons sentenced to death more than once, the numbers are based on the most recent death sentence.|
aspect of defense involves prolonged jury selection. Even though jury selection in noncapital cases may take several days, in capital cases it may take several months.
COSTS OF FEDERAL CASES IN NON-DEATH PENALTY STATES.
Federal law can be enacted in any U.S. state or territory, even in a jurisdiction that does not have the death penalty. In March 2002 Michigan became the first non-death penalty state in which a federal jury sentenced a person to death. Marvin Gabrion had been convicted of the murder of nineteen-year-old Rachel Timmerman.
In 1997 Timmerman's body, which was tied with chains and handcuffs and secured to cinder blocks, was found in Oxford Lake in Michigan's Manistee National Forest.
Authorities said she was thrown in the water while still alive. Timmerman was scheduled to testify against Gabrion for raping her in 1996. Authorities also believed Gabrion was involved in the disappearance of Timmerman's one-year-old daughter. Because Timmerman was found on federal property, the government authorized the death penalty.
The federal government's decision to pursue the death penalty meant that taxpayers nationwide had to foot the bill. Ed White notes in ''Gabrion Defense Costs Taxpayers $730,168'' (Grand Rapids Press, May 24, 2002) that the defense costs amounted to over $730,000. A major portion of the expenses (over $537,000) went toward attorney fees. According to Chief Justice Robert Holmes Bell of the U.S. District Court of the Western District of Michigan, defending federal death penalty cases usually costs over $1 million. This price tag does not include the cost of prosecuting the case. However, prosecutors typically do not make an accounting of their expenses. White reports that even though the U.S. Attorney's Office disclosed it spent at least $316,201, it did not say what the total additional costs were. These included, among other things, staff salaries and Federal Bureau of Investigation expenses.
Until 1930 the U.S. government did not keep any record of the number of people executed under the death penalty. Snell notes that from 1930 through 2003 a total of 4,863 executions were conducted under civil authority in the United States. (See Table 6.10.) Military authorities carried out an additional 160 executions between 1930 and 1961, the date of the last military execution.
From 1930 to 1939 a total of 1,667 inmates were executed, the highest number of people put to death in any decade. The number of executions generally declined between the 1930s and the 1960s. In 1930, 155 executions took place, reaching a high of 199 in 1935. By 1950 executions were down to eighty-two, further dropping to forty-nine each in 1958 and 1959, and then rising slightly to fifty-six in 1960. In 1967 a ten-year moratorium (temporary suspension) of the death penalty began as states waited for the U.S. Supreme Court to determine a constitutionally acceptable procedure for carrying out the death penalty. (See Figure 1.2 in Chapter 1.)
The moratorium ended in 1976, but no executions occurred that year. The first execution following the moratorium occurred in Utah in January 1977. In 1999 ninety-eight inmates were put to death, the most in the one year after the death penalty was reinstated. Between 1976 and the end of 2005, 1,004 people were put to death. Figure 6.4 shows the number of executions conducted by year between 1973 and 2005.
Locations of Executions
Table 6.10 shows the number of prisoners executed by state between 1930 and 2005 and between 1977 and2005. Texas, by far, had the most executions during both time periods—652 executions between 1930 and 2005 and 355 executions between 1977 and 2005.
Overall, thirty-three states carried out executions between 1977 and 2005. The federal government executed three men. The largest number (355) of executions in a single state occurred in Texas, followed by Virginia (ninety-four), Oklahoma (seventy-nine), Missouri (sixtysix), Florida (sixty), Georgia (thirty-nine), and North Carolina (thirty-nine). Together, these seven states carried out nearly three-quarters of all executions during this twenty-eight-year period. (See Figure 6.5.)
|Number of persons executed, by jurisdiction, 1930–2005|
|State||Since 1930||Since 1977|
|District of Columbia||40||0|
The breakdown by state for executions in 2005 is shown in Table 6.11. Texas led the nation with nineteen executions, followed by Indiana, Missouri, and North Carolina with five each.
The BJS does not provide state or yearly breakdowns of the number of women executed in the United States. However, Streib reports that between 1632 and June 30, 2007, 568 documented executions of women had been reported. Of this number, fifty women were put to death between 1900 and 2005.
Streib notes that in 1984 Margie Velma Barfield was executed in North Carolina for poisoning her boyfriend.
Karla Faye Tucker of Texas was convicted of beating two people to death with a pickax. In 1998 Tucker became the first woman to be executed in Texas since the Civil War (1861–1865). (In 1863 Chipita Rodriguez, the last woman to be executed in Texas, was put to death by hanging. She had been convicted of the ax murder of a horse trader.) In Florida Judias Buenoano was convicted of poisoning her husband with arsenic. She was also convicted of drowning her earaplegic son and of trying to kill her boyfriend. In 1998 Buenoano became the first woman to be executed in Florida since 1848, when a freed slave named Celia was hanged for killing her former owner.
In 2000 Betty Lou Beets was executed in Texas for killing her fifth husband. Christina Marie Riggs, convicted of killing her two children, was executed in Arkansas the same year. The last woman put to death in Arkansas before Riggs—Lavinia Burnett—was hanged in 1845 for being an accessory to murder.
In 2001 Oklahoma executed three female inmates: Wanda Jean Allen, Marilyn Kay Plantz, and Lois Nadean Smith. Allen was the first woman to be executed in Oklahoma since 1903. She was also the first African-American woman to be put to death in the United States
|Executions during 2005|
since 1954. She was convicted of murdering her gay lover in 1988. Plantz was executed for the 1988 murder of her husband. She had hired two men to kill her husband. One of the men, William Bryson, was executed in June 2000 for the murder, and the other, Clinton McKimble, received a life sentence in exchange for his testimony against Plantz and Bryson. Smith was convicted of killing her son's girlfriend in 1982.
Lynda Lyon Block and her husband, George Sibley Jr., murdered a police officer in 1993. In 2002 Alabama executed Block, making her the first woman to be executed in the state in forty-five years. Sibley was executed in 2005. Aileen Carol Wuornos, convicted of killing six men in Florida, was put to death by lethal injection in2002. As of July 2007, the last woman executed in the United States was Frances Elaine Newton of Texas, executed in 2005 for murdering her husband and their two small children.
RACE AND ETHNICITY
Figure 6.6 shows the racial and ethnic makeup of the 1,004 prisoners executed between 1977 and 2005. The majority (584) of those executed were white. Slightly more than a third (339) were African-American, and a small portion (67) were Hispanic.
The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF) publishes the quarterly Death Row USA, whichtracks the number of death row inmates and executions in the United States. The LDF maintains statistics not only on the race of the executed prisoners but also on their victims. These types of statistics have been used in court cases to decide the constitutionality of the death penalty. The courts have to consider whether whites who murdered African-Americans
received lighter sentences than African-Americans who murdered whites and whether those sentences violated the equal protection rights of the Constitution.
The LDF notes in Death Row USA: Winter 2007 (January 1, 2007, http://www.naacpldf.org/content/pdf/pubs/drusa/DRUSA_Winter_2007.pdf) that from 1976 through 2006, 79.5% of the victims of executed inmates were white and 14% were African-American. Examination of the defendant-victim racial combinations reveals that 53.6% of white defendants murdered white victims, whereas only 1.4% murdered African-American victims. Among African-American defendants, 20.6% were executed for murdering white victims, whereas 10.9% had African-American victims.
CRIMES WARRANTING THE DEATH PENALTY
According to Kathleen Maguire and Ann L. Pastore, in the Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics 2003 (2004, http://www.albany.edu/sourcebook/), the vast majority of executions from 1930 through 1998 were for murder, followed by rape. The remaining executions included twenty-five cases for armed robbery, twenty for kidnapping, eleven for burglary, six for sabotage, six for aggravated assault, and two for espionage. Since 1965 all those executed have been convicted on murder charges. Figure 6.7 shows a breakdown by criminal offense of people executed from 1930 through 2005. Ninety percent
of the executions were for murder, whereas 9% were for rape and 1% were for other offenses.
According to Maguire and Pastore, the last executions for rape occurred in 1964. Six executions for rape occurred in three states that year: Texas (three), Missouri (two), and Arkansas (one). The Supreme Court ruled in Coker v. Georgia (433 U.S. 584, 1977) that rape did not warrant the death penalty. The case concerned the rape of an adult woman. The Court did not address the rape of a child. In December 1996, however, the Louisiana Supreme Court ruled that death is a just and constitutional punishment for the rape of a child under twelve years of age. As of November 2007, no one had been executed under Louisiana's statute.
METHOD OF EXECUTION
According to Snell, among the 1,004 prisoners executed between 1977 and 2005, 836 (83%) received lethal injection, followed by electrocution (152, or 15%). (See Table 6.12.) Eleven executions were carried out by lethal gas, three by hanging, and two by firing squad. Texas, the state with the largest number of prisoners executed, used lethal injection in all 355 cases. Virginia executed sixty-seven inmates by lethal injection and twenty-seven inmates by electrocution. Oklahoma put to death seventy-nine prisoners, all by lethal injection.
|Executions, by state and method, 1977–2005|
|State||Number executed||Lethal injection||Electrocution||Lethal gas||Hanging||Firing squad|