What are 5 Facts About the Death Penalty

What are 5 Facts About the Death Penalty

Also known as capital punishment, the death penalty is a source of controversy and even curiosity. There is also a great deal of misinformation around the subject of the death penalty, which can lead to a lot of confusion and fear for people facing criminal charges in which the death penalty is a potential punishment.

The death penalty is legal under Texas state law. In fact, Texas also leads the country in death penalty executions. If you have been charged with a crime in which the death penalty is a possible consequence of conviction, it’s important to discuss your case with a Dallas criminal appeals lawyer as soon as possible.

If you’re facing serious criminal charges, you need an experienced Texas criminal defense lawyer near you who has experience handling capital punishment cases. This defense attorney can help you understand what you’re facing and help you build the best defense possible in your case. Here are five facts about the death penalty you need to know.

1. The Death Penalty is Legal in 29 States

However, this is a somewhat complex statistic. As of 2020, the death penalty is the law in 29 states, including Texas. The death penalty is also legal under federal law as well as military law.

In 21 states plus the District of Columbia, the death penalty has been abolished or put under a gubernatorial moratorium. Among these states, four — California, Colorado, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania — still technically include the death penalty as part of state law, but the governors of these states have declared a moratorium on executions, meaning they refuse to allow executions to occur while they’re in office.

The legal status of the death penalty is continuously evolving, with some states abolishing it as recently as 2019.

2. There Have Been 1,513 Executions Since 1976

There are far more people on Death Row than there are executions. The Death Penalty Information Center, which is a non-profit organization that tracks death penalty statistics, reports that there have been 1,513 executions since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty for states in 1976.

This reinstatement came after a 1972 decision in Furman v. Georgia in which the Court ruled that the death penalty violated the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment and was thus unconstitutional.

The Southern states execute far more people than states in any other region. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, states in the South have executed 1,238 individuals since 1976. By contrast, states in the Northeast have executed just 4 individuals.

3. There Are About 2,500 People on Death Row

There are around 2,500 individuals awaiting execution in the United States. However, just a fraction of these prisoners are actually executed each year. This is because the appeals process can take years and even decades.

About 50 percent of all death row inmates will wait an average of 10 years before they have exhausted their appeals. In some cases, death row prisoners have been exonerated while they wait for execution. Between 2013 and 2019, over half of the people exonerated spent 25 years or longer on death row before they were exonerated.

In many cases, opponents of the death penalty argue that the nature of death row, in which prisoners are typically isolated from the rest of the prison population, can lead to mental health issues in inmates. Some opponents of the death penalty argue that so-called “death row syndrome” can render an inmate mentally unfit to face execution.

4. Some States Still Have Hanging and Firing Squad as Methods of Execution

Lethal injection is the primary form of execution in all states that still have a death penalty. Lethal injection is also by far the most common execution method.

However, a handful of states allow other forms of execution, including lethal gas, the electric chair, the firing squad, and hanging. Tennessee executed a death row prisoner by electric chair in 2019 at the prisoner’s request. Utah was the most recent state to execute someone by way of a firing squad, which occurred in 2010.

5. There Have Been 166 Death Row Exonerations Since 1973

Across the country, 166 people sentenced to death since 1973 have been exonerated and released from prison for a crime they didn’t commit.

If you count non-death row cases, there have been even more exonerations. According to the Innocence Project, there have been 365 DNA exonerations as of September 2019, with 20 of those being death row inmates.

If you have been charged with capital punishment in Texas, get your case evaluated by speaking to a Texas criminal defense lawyer about your case. It’s important to seek help from a Texas criminal defense lawyer. The death penalty is legal in Texas, and many prosecutors push for it aggressively. You need a relentless criminal defense lawyer who will work just as aggressively for you and your rights. Contact Broden & Mickelsen, LLP today!

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  1. https://deathpenaltyinfo.org/state-and-federal-info/state-by-state
  2. https://www.statista.com/statistics/199090/total-number-of-executions-in-the-us-by-state/
  3. https://files.deathpenaltyinfo.org/documents/pdf/FactSheet.f1579185237.pdf
  4. https://www.politico.com/story/2017/06/29/supreme-court-strikes-down-death-penalty-june-29-1972-239938
  5. https://deathpenaltyinfo.org/death-row/death-row-time-on-death-row
  6. https://deathpenaltyinfo.org/executions/methods-of-execution
  7. https://deathpenalty.org/blog/the-focus/1500-executions-166-exonerations/
  8. https://www.innocenceproject.org/exoneration-statistics-and-databases/

Mick Mickelsen is a nationally recognized criminal trial attorney with more than 30 years of experience defending people charged with white-collar crimes, drug offenses, sex crimes, murder, and other serious state and federal offenses.