Death Penalty Trends
Death Penalty Trends (1976-2005)
MAJORITY OF STATES DO NOT ACTIVELY USE
Most U.S. states either do not have a death penalty at all or almost never use it. Twenty-nine states have carried out three or fewer executions in the past 30 years or have a moratorium on executions. Almost all of these states carried out no more than one execution in 30 years. Only 9 states have averaged at least one execution per year since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, and only 4 of those states (Texas, Virginia, Oklahoma, and Missouri) have averaged two or more executions per year during that time.
AVERAGE EXECUTIONS PER YEAR
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The status of the death penalty in the 29 states mentioned above is as follows:
- Twelve states do not have the death penalty on their books: Alaska, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia and Wisconsin. In addition, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico do not have the death penalty.
- Kansas, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York and South Dakota have had no executions in the past 30 years, even though they have had a death penalty statute during at least part of that time. The same is true for the U.S. Military.
- Kansas’ statute was overturned by the state supreme court in 2004 and is pending review in the U.S. Supreme Court.
- New York’s statute was overturned in 2004. The state legislature in 2005 rejected a bill to change the law and reinstate the death penalty.
- Illinois has had a moratorium on all executions since 2000.
- New Jersey has had no executions and has a court-imposed moratorium on executions.
- New Hampshire has had no executions and no death sentences imposed.
- Wyoming has had no executions in 13 years and only 1 in 30 years
- Idaho has had no executions in 11 years and only 1 in 30 years.
- Colorado has had no executions in 7 years and only 1 in 30 years.
- Connecticut, New Mexico, and Tennessee each had only 1 execution in 30 years.
- Oregon has had only 2 executions in 30 years and none in past 8 years.; both inmates waived their appeals.
- Kentucky and Montana each had only 2 executions in the past 30 years.
- Pennsylvania has had only 3 executions in the past 30 years and all three were inmates who waived their appeals.
- Nebraska has had only 3 executions in the past 30 years and none in the past 7 years.
- Only Texas has averaged 4 or more executions per year in the past three decades.
See also DPIC's 2004 Year End Report.