Executions Overview

Executions in the U.S. 1608-2002: The Espy File

The “Espy File” is a database of executions in the United States and the earlier colonies from 1608 to 2002. This list of 15,269 executions was compiled by M. Watt Espy and John Ortiz Smykla, and was made available through the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research. Note: This is the latest version of the Espy File. Previously, this web page contained “The Espy File: 1608-1987.”

The files below feature important information about each execution listed in the Espy File, such as the name, age and race of each individual executed, the date of execution, and the method of execution used, but omit some information, such as county of execution and the occupation of the executed. To download the complete Espy File, visit the ICPSR website at www.icpsr.umich.edu/NACJD (click “download data” and use ICPSR # 8451). Some information in the Espy File differs slightly from DPIC information since 1976, with respect to dates of execution and race of the inmate, but not the names, place or method of execution. In these instances, DPIC has verified through Department of Corrections’ websites and news accounts that the information on DPIC pages is correct. For information on more recent executions, see DPIC’s Information on Executions in the U.S.

Please note that the Espy File is an incomplete work, and that other studies featured on this website may include executions not listed in the Espy File.

DPIC’s display of the Espy File data has been sorted in three different ways for convenience in researching: Executions in Chronological Order, Executions in Alphabetical Order by the last name of the defendant, and Executions in Geographical Order, by the state in which the execution was carried out. In all of these files, the location given is not necessarily the jurisdiction responsible for the execution. For example, an execution may have occurred in California but under federal jurisdiction. The location would be listed as CA. Consult the original Espy File database for complete information.

The files are in pdf form and may be read with the free program Adobe Reader.

This information is also available in Excel format.

Historical Leaders in Executions Since 1608

Using information contained in the “Espy File” together with current information, the states in the United States that have executed 700 or more prisoners since 1608 are as follows:

Espy File
1608 - 1972
DPIC
1976 - Present*
Total
1608 - Present
1. Virginia 1,277 111 1,388
2. Texas 755 538 1,293
3. New York 1,130 0 1,130
4. Pennsylvania 1,040 3 1,043
5. Georgia 950 69 1,019
6. North Carolina 784 43 827
7. Alabama 708 58 766
8. California 709 13 722

* Executions as of December 31, 2016

For executions occurring after January 1, 2017 see our Executions Database.

Executions by Race of Defendants: 1608-2016

Below is the racial breakdown of people executed from 1608 to 1972, compiled from information found in the “Espy File.” Also shown is the same breakdown since the death penalty was resumed in 1976, compiled from DPIC race statistics. For more information, see Race and the Death Penalty.

RaceEspy File 1608 - 1972DPIC 1976 - 2016*Executions 1608 - 2016*
White 40.7% (5,902) 55.7% (803) 42.1% (6,705)
Black 48.9% (7,084) 34.3% (495) 47.6% (7,579)
Native American 2.4% (353) 1.1% (16) 2.3% (369)
Hispanic 2.0% (295) 8.3% (120) 2.6% (415)
Other (includes Asian Pacific Islander and unknown) 5.9% (855) 0.6% (8) 5.4% (863)
Total Executions 14,489 1442 15,931

*Executions through December 31, 2016

Numbers in parenthesis are the actual number of persons of each race executed in the time period.

Executions 1608-1976

StateExecutions 1608-1976

Virginia

1,277

New York

1,130

Pennsylvania

1,040

Georgia

950

North Carolina

784

Texas

755

California

709

Alabama

708

South Carolina

641

Louisiana

632

Arkansas

478

Ohio

438

Kentucky

424

New Jersey

361

Mississippi

351

Illinois

348

Massachusetts

345

Tennessee

335

Florida

314

Maryland

309

Missouri

285

West Virginia

155

Oklahoma

132

Indiana

131

Connecticut

126

Oregon

122

Washington, DC

118

Washington

105

Arizona

104

Colorado

101

New Mexico

73

Montana

71

Minnesota

66

Delaware

62

Nevada

61

Kansas

57

Rhode Island

52

Hawaii

49

Iowa

45

Utah

43

Nebraska

34

Idaho

26

Vermont

26

New Hampshire

24

Wyoming

22

Maine

21

South Dakota

15

Michigan

13

Alaska

12

North Dakota

8

Wisconsin

1