DPIC RESOURCES: New State Pages Now Available
DPIC is pleased to announce the completion of our State Information Pages for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. These state profiles provide historical and current information on the death penalty for each state, including famous cases, past legislative actions, and links to key organizations and state officials. For frequently updated information, such as execution totals, the size of death row, or the number of exonerations, see our State-by-State Database. Readers are encouraged to send additional information, pictures, and links to organizations in their state. You can reach the State Information Pages through the "State by State" button at the top of every page on our website or under the "Resources" tab in our main menu.
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NEW RESOURCES: Five New States Added to State Information Pages
DPIC is pleased to announce the addition of five more states to our State Information Pages. Information is now available for 25 states, including the latest entries: Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Massachusetts and New York. These pages provide historical and current information on the death penalty for each state (regardless of whether it currently has the death penalty), including famous cases, past legislative actions, and links to key organizations. For frequently-updated information, such as execution totals, the size of death row, or the number of exonerations, see our State-by-State Database. The remaining state pages will be made available soon, especially as residents send information, pictures, and links to organizations. You can reach the State Information Pages through the "State by State" button at the top of every page on our website or under the "Resources" tab in our main menu.
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NEW RESOURCES: States Ranked by Executions Per Death Sentence
DPIC has updated its Executions Per Death Death Sentence page to reflect data through 2010. This page lists states in order of the percentage of death sentences resulting in an execution since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976. If every death sentence resulted in an execution, the state would be at 100%, or a rate of 1.00. Using this ratio of executions per death sentence, the first five states are Virginia (.725), Texas (.498), Utah (.368), Missouri (.347), and Delaware (.311). Of those states that have carried out at least one execution, the five states with the lowest rate of execution are Pennsylvania (.008), California (.015), Idaho (.025), Oregon (.028), and Tennessee (.035). Four states with the death penalty during this time period had no executions: Kansas, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and New York. The latter two have abandoned the death penalty. Nationally, about 15% of death sentences have resulted in an execution (a rate of .150). Another measure of state execution rates is executions per capita (population). Under this standard, Oklahoma and Texas are the leading states.
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Florida Supreme Court Stays Execution to Allow Lethal Injection Hearing
On July 25, the Florida Supreme Court (4-3) stayed the August 2 execution of Manuel Valle to allow a lower court to consider a challenge to a new lethal injection drug. Last month, Florida substituted pentobarbital for sodium thiopental as the first drug in its three-drug protocol for executions. Florida and many other states were forced to seek alternatives to sodium thiopental when the drug's sole U.S. manufacturer decided to stop its production. Valle's lawyers contend that the use of pentobarbital would subject him to a substantial risk of harm because the drug has never been tested on humans for the purpose of inducing an anesthetic coma. Federal judges in Ohio and Delaware have also recently stayed executions in those states because of lethal injection challenges, although the stay in Delaware was lifted pending clarification of the basis for the stay. On separate grounds, a federal judge in Florida found the state's death penalty law unconstitutional because jurors are not given decision-making power to determine whether a defendant is eligible for the death penalty. That case is still under review.
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NEW RESOURCES: Judges in Alabama Imposing Death Sentences by Overriding Juries
A new report from the Equal Justice Initiative in Alabama exposes the practice of state judges imposing death sentences by overriding a jury's recommendation for life. EJI's study found that judges in the state have overridden jury recommendations 107 times since 1976. In 92% of the overrides, judges overruled life verdicts to impose a death sentence. More than 20% of the defendants on Alabama's death row were sentenced through judge overrides. These sentences contribute to the high per capita death sentencing and execution rates in Alabama compared to the rest of the country. In Alabama, trial and appellate court judges are elected, often based on "tough on crime" platforms. The study found that the proportion of death sentences imposed by override often is elevated during election years. For example, in 2008, 30% of new death sentences were imposed through judge override, compared to only 7% in 1997, a non-election year. In Johnson v. Alabama--a case involving a judicial override--Justice Thurgood Marshall, wrote in dissent that "it approaches the most literal sense of the word 'arbitrary' to put one to death in the face of a contrary jury determination where it is accepted that the jury had indeed responsibly carried out its task."
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