Executions – by hanging, firing squad, electric chair, or lethal injections – have been part of the U.S. justice system since the founding of the country. From 1608 to 2002, 15,629 people were executed. Between the late 1970s and this year, there were 1,558 executions
That number has declined over the decades, as more states have abolished the death penalty, issued moratoriums, or simply did not order the punishment. The most recent states to abolish the death penalty were New Mexico, Illinois, and Connecticut. And though capital punishment exists in 27 states, 37 states have not carried out executions in the past 10 years. In the past five years, 39 states did not carry out executions.
Some states continue to execute prisoners, with Texas leading in the number of executions, according to data from Death Row U.S.A. Spring 2022, a report by the Legal Defense Fund. Most states that still carry out executions are larger states, based on population.
Among the 35 jurisdictions that carried out executions since 1976, the number of executions ranges from one to nearly 580 in Texas. The Lone Star state accounted for 37% of all executions nationwide in that time. In each of the states, the vast majority of prisoners who have been put to death, if not all, were men. Texas executed six female prisoners over that time. (Here are the most depraved serial killers in history.)
The last person to have been executed was Texas inmate Stephen Barbee, who killed his pregnant ex-girlfriend and her 7-year-old son more than 17 years ago. Barbee received a lethal injection on Nov. 16 after courts rejected his appeals. Another prisoner, Tracy Beatty, who was found guilty for murdering his mother in East Texas in 2003, was injected with lethal drugs on Nov. 9. Beatty had a history of mental illness.
Texas executed five prisoners in 2022 and scheduled nine more executions for 2023. The state has 198 prisoners on death row, 45% of them Black, 27% white, 26% Latino/a, and 2% Asian. Texas is not, however, the state with the most prisoners on death row. That state is California, which has had a moratorium on the death penalty for a few years and its last execution was in 2006. (Here is a look at the states with the most people on death row.)
Here are the states and jurisdictions where the most people have been executed in the United States.
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