Thirty-five states have the death penalty; fifteen do not. New York and New Jersey abolished the death penalty as recently as 2007. Michigan abolished the death penalty in 1846. Wisconsin in 1853. In 2009, New Mexico abolished the death penalty. However, it wasn’t retroactive, so two previously convicted inmates still sit on death row.
Since 1976, a total of 1226 people have been executed. 56% of the 1226 defendants executed were white, 35% were African-American, and 7% were Hispanic. This is compared to the percentage distribution of murderers in the United States, which is 34% white, 35% black, and 30% unknown. Also since 1976, there have been 130 people released from death row due to new evidence proving their innocence. California, Florida, and Texas make up the states with the most death row inmates. In total, Texas has had 463 executions– four times more than the next highest state, Virginia. Eleven women have been executed since 1976. 1052 have died by lethal injection, 157 by electrocution, 11 by gas chamber, 3 by hanging, and 3 by firing squad.
Now, the costs. The most comprehensive study in the country found that the death penalty costs North Carolina $2.16 million per execution over the cost of sentencing murders to life imprisonment. The average death row inmate spends 10.26 years on death row. In North Carolina, the cost of spending a year in maximum security prison is $32,000. When you add the costs for an inmate to spend 10.26 years on death row at $32,000 a year with the cost of actually killing him, which is $2.16 million dollars, it ends up costing about $3 million per inmate. When you take all 1226 inmates and consider that it cost $3 million to put them on death row and then, consequently, end their lives… the total cost is $3.6 TRILLION dollars.
Most disturbing of all, since 1990 only seven countries have reported executing juveniles: Iran, Saudia Arabia, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Yemen, Pakistan, and… the United States. That’s right– several countries with questionable ethics and us. Of the thirty-five states that have the death penalty, nineteen have a minimum age eligibility of 16-years-old. In five states the minimum age is 17-years-old. Only eleven states have a minimum age of 18-years-old.
Really? We’re executing juveniles?