Some Facts About the Death Penalty
- 34 states have the death penalty; 16 do not.
- Recent Supreme Court decisions have limited the use of the death penalty by declaring it unconstitutional to execute persons with mental retardation and juveniles under the age of 18, or to impose the death penalty when no murder occurred or was intended. The court has also ruled that defendants are entitled to have a jury decide whether to impose the death penalty.
- Approximately 3,261 inmates are on death row in 37 state, military, and federal prisons.
- Since 1973, there have been 138 exonerations of death row inmates.
- Since 1976, there have been a total of 1,246 executions in the United States, including 12 in the first few months of 2011.
- The California death penalty system costs taxpayers $114 million per year beyond the costs of keeping convicts locked up for life (L.A. Times, March 6, 2005).
*Source: Death Penalty Information Center