Hi, socionomics-ga !
This is a vast question, and probably a bit outside the scope of a
$7.00 question, but it was really interesting to research.
Firstly, statistics on this subject were not kept until 1930 and
really accurate statistice were not kept until after the recent
re-introduction of the death penalty.
An excellent answer by my colleague Pinkfreud addresses part of your
As she points out, The Death Penalty Information Centre has an
extensive site at:
The site cites a link which enables you to download the Espy file in
PDF format which covers executions from 1608 to 1991 (Roy Harich) -
the title implies 1987 but it does go further.
"To download the complete Espy File, visit the ICPSR Web site at
www.icpsr.umich.edu/NACJD <http://www.icpsr.umich.edu/NACJD> (click
"download data" and use ICPSR # 8451). "
The Death Penalty Information Centre have assessed and added to the
Espy information and you may download their information sorted by
name, date or state in pdf format from:
Scroll down the page past the chart to find the links.
State by state information from 1976 (the re-introduction of the death
penalty) can be accessed from:
Note the comment: "This compilation of state-by-state death penalty
information is a work in progress. Suggestions and corrections are
welcome (e-mail <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org> ). "
Clicking on each state name gives details for that state, including
crimes which carry the death penalty. It also pulls up a state by
state comparison chart with totsl executions since 1976, and figures
for 2002 and 2003.There is also a rather blurry map, which shows Texas
as the state with the most executions.
(Note that the Texas Department of Criminal Justice site has a page
dedicated to last meal requests at:
Very odd. You have to admire William Chappell who ordered "Same meal
that is served to all other offenders in the main dining room" and
Robert Madden "Asked that final meal be provided to a homeless
person". I hope that was done.
The site also has details of offenders - including mugshots - and
Back with The Death Penalty Information site, there are statistics for
the US Goverment starting at:
There were 380 federal executions between 1790 and 1963.
"A study was conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice at the
request of President Clinton and was released on September 12, 2000.
The study, The Federal Death Penalty System: A Statistical Survey
was to describe the Department of Justice's decision-making process
for deciding whether to seek the death penalty in individual cases,
and to present statistical information focusing on the racial, ethnic
and geographical distribution of defendants and their victims at
particular stages of the decision-making process.
Released on September 12, 2000, the study found numerous racial and
geographic disparities. The report revealed that 80% of the cases
submitted by federal prosecutors for death penalty review in the past
five years have involved racial minorities as defendants. In more than
half of those cases, the defendant was African-American. Attorney
General Janet Reno said she was "sorely troubled" by the results of
the report and has ordered United States attorneys to help explain the
racial and ethnic disparities.
The report also found that 40% of the 682 cases sent to the Justice
Department for approval to seek the death penalty were filed by only
five jurisdictions. "
The only online statistics relating to number of prosecutions vs.
number of convictions vs. number of executions was also on that page:
"In May 1998, the Subcommittee on Federal Death Penalty Cases of the
Committee on Defender Services of the Judicial Conference of the
United States prepared a report entitled "Federal Death Penalty Cases:
Recommendations Concerning the Cost and Quality of Defense
Listed below are some of the findings of this report.
"The number of federal prosecutions in which an offense punishable by
death is charged, and to which special statutory requirements for the
appointment and compensation of counsel apply, increased sharply after
the 1994 Federal Death Penalty Act increased the number of federal
crimes punishable by death.
Number of defendants charged with offenses punishable by death:
The Number of cases where the Attorney General has authorized seeking
the death penalty has increased since the 1994 Federal Death Penalty
Act was passed, increasing the number of crimes punishable by death.
The number of cases authorized as death penalty cases by year in which
the authorization decision was made (figures provided by the
Department of Justice):
..."Of the 211 defendants approved by the Attorneys General for
capital prosecution since 1988:
21 were sentenced to death and now are pending on appeal or post
1 received clemency
5 awaiting retrial or resentencing after reversal on appeal
38 were sentenced to less than death after jury or judge voted against
1 death sentence vacated and request for the death penalty withdrawn
5 were acquitted or innocence
10 were dismissed after notice by judge
28 requests for the death penalty withdrawn before trial
75 cases were discontinued by the government due to a plea bargain
3 died/committed suicide before sentencing
2 received a lesser included conviction
23 awaiting, or now on trial for capital charges
211 - Total
Source: Federal Death Penalty Resource Counsel Project
<http://www.capdefnet.org> (3/14/01) "
A list of all 37 prisoners actually executed by the Federal government
1927 to 2003 - including some WW II saboteurs - is on the site at:
The Bureau of Justice Statistics has detailed annual reports on
capital punishment from 1993 on, accessed from:
Scroll down to the bottom of the page for access to a spreadsheet for
you to download showing prisoners executed under civil authority in
the United States, by year, Federal, State-by-state, and region,
1977-2002, as well as a general list of numbers of executions
countrywide from 1930, when the collection of statistics began.
A state breakdown since the re-introduction of the death penalty is
and a breakdown of Texas executions by county is at:
You might also like to look ast the Justice Centre of the University
of Alaska, Anchorage which has a discussion on the subject at:
Finally an interesting sidelight on the jury vs. judge sentencing
procedures can be found at:
and the American Civil Liberties Union makes some good points about
Good luck with your ongoing research
death penalty statistics USA
capital punishment trials statistics USA
jury death sentences USA