SEVERE WX : High Wind Warning View Alerts

Death Penalty Fast Facts

Here's a look at the death penalty in the United States.Facts: As of Au...

Posted: Sep 4, 2018 3:54 PM
Updated: Sep 4, 2018 3:54 PM

Here's a look at the death penalty in the United States.

As of August 2018, capital punishment is legal in 31 US states.

Capital punishment

Crime, law enforcement and corrections

Criminal offenses

Death in custody

Decisions and rulings






North America



Prisons and jails

Societal issues

Southeastern United States

Southwestern United States

Supreme courts

United States

US Supreme Court

Cruel and unusual punishment

Constitutional law

Law and legal system


Amnesty and pardons

Crimes against persons

Criminal law

Government and public administration

Government bodies and offices


US federal court system

US federal government

Trial and procedure


Northeastern United States




State Supreme Court

US state governments

Midwestern United States



Females (demographic group)

Population and demographics

Fast Facts



Racism and racial discrimination

Court trials

Continents and regions

Corrections system

Demographic groups

Government organizations - US

Heads of government

The Americas

According to the Death Penalty Information Center, 23 people were executed in the United States in 2017, the second lowest number since 1991. The number of death sentences imposed was 39.

There were 2,817 people on death row in the United States on July 1, 2017, the most recent date for which data is available from the Criminal Justice Project.

Since 1976, when the death penalty was reinstated by the US Supreme Court, 1,481 people have been executed (as of August 14, 2018).

Since 1973, there have been 163 death row exonerations (as of April 19, 2018). Twenty-seven of them are from the state of Florida.

Between January 18, 2018 and August 14, 2018, 16 executions were carried out in seven states, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

Federal Government:
The US government and US military have 63 people awaiting execution. (As of June 14, 2018)

The US government has executed three people since 1988 when the federal death penalty statute was reinstated.

There are 53 women on death row in the United States (as of July 1, 2017).

Sixteen women have been executed since the reinstatement of the death penalty (as of October 1, 2016).

Twenty-two individuals were executed between 1976 and 2005 for crimes committed as juveniles.

March 1, 2005 - Roper v. Simmons. The Supreme Court rules that the execution of juvenile offenders is unconstitutional.

Since 1976, 288 individuals have been granted clemency.

For federal death row inmates, the president alone has the power to grant a pardon.

1834 - Pennsylvania becomes the first state to move executions into correctional facilities, ending public executions.

1846 - Michigan becomes the first state to abolish the death penalty for all crimes except treason.

1890 - William Kemmler becomes the first person executed by electrocution.

1907-1917 - Nine states abolish the death penalty for all crimes or strictly limit it. By 1920, five of those states had reinstated it.

1924 - The use of cyanide gas is introduced as an execution method.

June 29, 1972 - Furman v. Georgia. The Supreme Court effectively voids 40 death penalty statutes and suspends the death penalty.

1976 - Gregg v. Georgia. The death penalty is reinstated.

January 17, 1977 - A 10-year moratorium on the death penalty ends with the execution of Gary Gilmore by firing squad in Utah.

1977 - Oklahoma becomes the first state to adopt lethal injection as a means of execution.

December 7, 1982 - Charles Brooks becomes the first person executed by lethal injection.

1984 - Velma Barfield of North Carolina becomes the first woman executed since reinstatement of the death penalty.

1986 - Ford v. Wainwright. Execution of insane persons is banned.

1987 - McCleskey v. Kemp. Racial disparities are not recognized as a constitutional violation of "equal protection of the law" unless intentional racial discrimination against the defendant can be shown.

1988 - Thompson v. Oklahoma. Executions of offenders age 15 and younger at the time of their crimes are declared unconstitutional.

1996 - The last execution by hanging takes place in Delaware, with the death of Billy Bailey.

January 31, 2000 - A moratorium on executions is declared by Illinois Governor George Ryan. Since 1976, Illinois is the first state to block executions.

2002 - Atkins v. Virginia. The Supreme Court rules that the execution of mentally retarded defendants violates the Eighth Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

January 2003 - Before leaving office, Governor Ryan grants clemency to all the remaining 167 inmates on Illinois's death row, due to the flawed process that led to the death sentences.

June 12, 2006 - The Supreme Court rules that death row inmates can challenge the use of lethal injection as a method of execution.

December 17, 2007 - New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine signs legislation abolishing the death penalty in the state. The death sentences of eight men are commuted to sentences of life without parole.

April 16, 2008 - In a 7-2 ruling, the US Supreme Court upholds use of lethal injection. Between September 2007, when the Court took on the case, and April 2008, no one was executed in the US due to the de facto moratorium the Court placed on executions while it heard arguments in Baze v. Rees.

March 18, 2009 - Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico signs legislation repealing the death penalty in his state. His actions will not affect two prisoners currently on death row: Robert Fry, who killed a woman in 2000, and Tim Allen, who killed a 17-year-old girl in 1994.

November 13, 2009 - Ohio becomes the first state to switch to a method of lethal injection using a single drug, rather than the three-drug method used by other states.

March 9, 2011 - Illinois Governor Pat Quinn announces that he has signed legislation eliminating the death penalty in his state, more than 10 years after the state halted executions.

March 16, 2011 - The Drug Enforcement Agency seizes Georgia's supply of thiopental, over questions of where the state obtained the drug. US manufacturer Hospira stopped producing the drug in 2009. The countries that still produce the drug do not allow it to be exported to the US for use in lethal injections.

May 20, 2011 - The Georgia Department of Corrections announces that pentobarbital will be substituted for thiopental in the three-drug lethal injection process.

July 1, 2011 - Lundbeck Inc., the company that makes pentobarbital (brand name Nembutal), announces it will restrict the use of its product from prisons carrying out capital punishment.

November 22, 2011 - Governor John Kitzhaber of Oregon places a moratorium on all state executions for the remainder of his term in office.

April 25, 2012 - Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy signs S.B. 280, An Act Revising the Penalty for Capital Felonies, into law. The law goes into effect immediately and replaces the death penalty with life without the possibility of parole. The law is not retroactive to those already on death row.

May 2, 2013 - Maryland's governor signs a bill repealing the death penalty. The law goes into effect October 1.

January 16, 2014 - Ohio executes inmate Dennis McGuire with a new combination of drugs, due to the unavailability of drugs such as pentobarbital. The state uses a combination of the drugs midazolam and hydromorphone, according to the state corrections department. The execution process takes 24 minutes, and McGuire appears to be gasping for air for 10 to 13 minutes, according to witness Alan Johnson, a reporter with the Columbus Dispatch. In May 2014, an Ohio judge issues an order suspending executions in the state so that authorities can further study new lethal injection protocols. In 2015, Ohio announces that it is reincorporating thiopental sodium, a drug which it used in executions from 1999-2011.

February 11, 2014 - Washington Governor Jay Inslee announces that he is issuing a moratorium on death penalty cases during his term in office.

May 22, 2014 - Tennessee becomes the first state to make death by electric chair mandatory when lethal injection drugs are unavailable.

July 23, 2014 - Arizona uses a new combination of drugs for the lethal injection to execute Joseph Woods, a convicted murderer. After the injection, it reportedly took him nearly two hours to die. A state review board later rules that future executions will be conducted with a three-drug formula or a single drug injection if the state can obtain pentobarbital.

September 4, 2014 - The Oklahoma Department of Public Safety issues a report about the botched execution of Clayton Lockett on April 29, 2014. Complications with the placement of an IV into Lockett played a significant role in problems with his execution, according to the report. It took 43 minutes for him to die.

December 31, 2014 - Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley commutes the death sentences of the four last men in the state scheduled for execution. It is one of his final acts in office.

January 23, 2015 - The Supreme Court agrees to hear a case concerning the lethal injection protocol in Oklahoma. The inmates claim that the state protocol violates the Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

February 13, 2015 - Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf halts all executions in his state, citing the state's "error prone" justice system and "inherent biases" among his reasons for the moratorium. Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams later announces he has filed a petition to block Gov. Wolf halting executions, claiming the moratorium is an unconstitutional takeover of powers.

March 23, 2015 - Utah Governor Gary Herbert signs legislation making the firing squad an authorized method of death if the drugs required for lethal injection are unavailable. The firing squad was last used in 2010 to execute a convicted murderer, Ronnie Lee Gardner.

June 29, 2015 - The Supreme Court rules, in a 5-4 decision, that the use of the sedative midazolam in lethal injections is not a violation of the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment. Midazolam is one of three drugs that are combined to carry out the death penalty in Oklahoma.

August 2, 2016 - The Delaware Supreme Court rules the state's death penalty law unconstitutional. Attorney General Matt Denn later announces that he will not appeal the decision.

November 8, 2016 - Voters in California, Nebraska and Oklahoma are asked to weigh in on the death penalty with referendum questions on ballots. In all three states, majorities vote in favor of the death penalty.

April 2017 - Of the eight prisoners Arkansas had planned to execute before the state's supply of a lethal injection drug expires, four are put to death: Ledell Lee, Jack Jones, Marcel Williams, and Kenneth Williams. The other four - Jason McGehee, was later granted clemency and Stacey Johnson, Don Davis and Bruce Ward - receive stays of execution that were later lifted.

April 20, 2017 - The FDA rules that imported vials of the execution drug sodium thiopental, ordered by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and the Arizona Department of Corrections, must be destroyed or exported within 90 days. The FDA had seized the shipment in 2015. Sodium thiopental is not approved in the United States.

April 25, 2017 - The Oklahoma Death Penalty Review Commission releases a report recommending the continuation of the moratorium on the death penalty, citing the need for significant reforms.

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 2988326

Reported Deaths: 33589
Los Angeles101466213848
San Bernardino2512131560
San Diego2117872103
Santa Clara926251065
San Joaquin56642748
Contra Costa51573446
San Mateo31805294
San Francisco28853254
Santa Barbara24149231
San Luis Obispo15466128
Santa Cruz12026113
El Dorado757544
San Benito488243
Del Norte8532
Partly Cloudy
68° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 68°
69° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 69°
68° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 68°
Red Bluff
69° wxIcon
Hi: 47° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 69°
Red Bluff
69° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 69°
68° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 68°
Very gusty winds, dry weather, and warm temperatures are ahead for your Martin Luther King Jr. Day today. We'll be very windy, but not as warm on Tuesday. Lighter winds, cooler temperatures, and the potential for wet weather will return in your extended forecast.
KHSL Severe
KHSL Radar
KHSL Temperatures

Community Events