Death Penalty Census

How to Use the Death Penalty Census

How to Use the Death Penalty Census

Because of the complex legal processes involved in death-penalty cases, even apparently straightforward concepts such as county or year of sentence are not as simple as they may seem. To help you understand the database, we have created and encourage you to review the Death Penalty Census Codebook. The codebook, located here, provides an in-depth explanation of how to interpret sentencing information in the database.

The Death Penalty Census database itself can be found here. The database allows you to search death sentences by name of the defendant sentenced and filter by a variety of fields shown below. For a downloadable CSV version of the Death Penalty Census, click here.

Each line in the database represents a single death sentence. The fields, or columns shown below, provide information about each death sentence, including the year of the sentence, the jurisdiction in which the sentence was imposed, the outcome of the sentence, and information on how the sentence relates to other death sentences imposed on the same defendant. The fields also provide information on the person sentenced, including their name, gender, and race.

Note: Each line in the database represents a single sentence, not a person.

The Multi-Sentence Identifier field is used to describe cir­cum­stances in which an indi­vid­ual was sen­tenced to death more than once. The field iden­ti­fies 1) cas­es in which a defen­dant was sen­tenced and resen­tenced to death in a sin­gle crim­i­nal pro­ceed­ing and 2) instances in which the same defen­dant was sen­tenced to death in mul­ti­ple unre­lat­ed pro­ceed­ings. This field is left blank when a list­ed sen­tence is the only death sen­tence imposed on the defendant.

The num­ber before the peri­od rep­re­sents the case, or the pro­ceed­ing against the defen­dant for a spe­cif­ic crim­i­nal act (or set of crim­i­nal acts if those acts were all tried in a sin­gle pro­ceed­ing by the pros­e­cut­ing author­i­ty). The num­ber after the peri­od rep­re­sents the suc­ces­sion of death sen­tences in a case.

For a deeper explanation of this field and others, read the Field Definitions section of the codebook.

With a database this size, there will inevitably be some errors or omissions. Our goal is for the Death Penalty Census to be as accurate and comprehensive as possible, and we welcome any additions or corrections. To correct an error or provide missing information, please notify us by email and send documentation of the correct information to [email protected].