More prisoners in the United States have died in the coronavirus pandemic than have been executed in the country in past two decades, new prison data shows, and more California death-row prisoners have been killed by the virus than have been executed in the state since 1993.

Ohio State University Law Professor Douglas Berman reported in his Sentencing Law and Policy blog that as of August 23, 2020, prisons across the United States had confirmed the deaths of 858 prisoners from COVID-19. “This considerable number is sad and disconcerting on its own terms,” Professor Berman wrote, “but it is even more remarkable given that it amounts to more prisoner deaths than has been produced by carrying out formal death sentences in the United States for the entire period from 2001 to 2020. According to DPIC data, there were a total of 839 executions from the start of 2001 through [August 23].”

By August 30, the number of confirmed prisoner deaths in the U.S. from COVID-19 had risen to 931, according to the UCLA Law COVID-19 Behind Bars Data Project. That total equals the number of executions in the country since Alvaro Colambro was put to death in Nevada on April 5, 1999.

California’s death row has been especially hard hit by the prison system’s failure to control the pandemic. An outbreak at San Quentin State Prison has killed at least 12 death-row prisoners, as many as the state has executed since 1993. Prison officials announced on August 19 that a 13th death-row prisoner, Dean Dunlap, died at an outside hospital in late July. The San Bernardino County Coroner’s Department will determine his cause of death. If he died from the coronavirus, the COVID-19 death-row death toll in California will equal the number of executions carried out by the state since the death penalty came back in the 1970s.

San Quentin death-row prisoners Richard Eugene Stitely, Joseph S. Cordova, Scott Thomas Erskine, Manuel Machado Alvarez, Dewayne Micheal Carey, David John Reed, Jeffrey J. Hawkins, Troy A. Ashmus, John M. Beames, Johnny Avila Jr., Orlando G. Romero, and Pedro Arias have reportedly died from the coronavirus.

DPIC has reviewed COVID-19-related information received from public and confidential sources in various states, including Departments of Correction, media reports, organizations monitoring COVID-19 in prisons; death-penalty researchers; death-row prisoners, their relatives, and authorized visitors; death-row exonerees; defense lawyers; and state and local death-penalty organizations. We have verified COVID-19 deaths on death row in Arizona and California. Known outbreaks have been reported on death rows in Arizona, California, Ohio, and Texas, with infections reported on death rows in North Carolina and Pennsylvania and suspected infections on Georgia’s death row.

COVID-19 infections have been reported in facilities housing death-row, though not known to have reached death-sentenced prisoners, in Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Nevada, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah and federal death row in Terre Haute, with at least one COVID-related death in the Kentucky facility. Corrections staff are infected with COVID-19 in many of the states listed above, as well as in Alabama. COVID-19 is not reported on death row in Idaho and Arkansas, but is present in facilities in close proximity to the prisons that house death row.

COVID-19 is not reported among death-row prisoners in Indiana, Oklahoma, or Virginia or on military death row in Fort Leavenworth. Wyoming has no one on its death row. Former death-row prisoner Robert Tassin died from the coronavirus in Angola prison in Louisiana.