State & Federal Info

Federal Death Penalty

The federal government can seek death sentences for a limited set of crimes, but federal executions are much rarer than state executions.


The federal death penalty applies in all 50 states and U.S. territories but is used relatively rarely. About 41 prisoners are on the federal death row, most of whom are imprisoned in Terre Haute, Indiana. Sixteen federal executions have been carried out in the modern era, all by lethal injection, with 13 occurring in a six-month period between July 2020 and January 2021.

The federal death penalty was held unconstitutional following the Supreme Court’s opinion of Furman v. Georgia in 1972. Unlike the quick restoration of the death penalty in most states, the federal death penalty was not reinstated until 1988, and then only for a very narrow class of offenses. The Federal Death Penalty Act of 1994 greatly expanded the number of eligible offenses to about 60.

The use of the federal death penalty in jurisdictions that have themselves opted not to have capital punishment—such as Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, and many states—has raised particular concerns about federal overreach into state matters.

News & Developments

Federal Death Penalty

Aug 03, 2023

Jurors Sentence Robert Bowers to Death for 2018 Synagogue Shooting

On August 1, 2023, death-qual­i­fied fed­er­al jurors unan­i­mous­ly rec­om­mend­ed a sen­tence of death for Robert Bowers, who they had ear­li­er con­vict­ed of killing 11 Jewish wor­ship­pers at a Pittsburgh syn­a­gogue in October 2018

Victims' Families

May 30, 2023

Victims’ Families are Divided Over Death Penalty as Bowers Trial Begins

On May 25, 2023, 12 death-qual­i­fied jurors and six alter­nates were select­ed in the fed­er­al cap­i­tal tri­al of Robert Bowers, who is charged with killing 11 wor­ship­pers at a Pittsburgh syn­a­gogue in 2018. Prosecutors struck all the Black, Hispanic, an…

Federal Death Penalty

Mar 13, 2023

Federal Jury Returns a Life Verdict in New York for Sayfullo Saipov

On March 13, 2023, a jury in the fed­er­al death penal­ty pros­e­cu­tion of Sayfullo Saipov in New York City con­clud­ed its delib­er­a­tions with­out com­ing to a unan­i­mous deci­sion regard­ing sen­tenc­ing. As a result, Saipov will be sen­tenced to life in prison…