The information below is quoted in full from the Federal Death Penalty Resource Counsel Project

As of January 21, 2021

Since 1988, the federal government has taken to trial a total of 208 federal death penalty cases involving 304 defendants in 238 trials. These 304 defendants were culled from a larger pool of 538 (FN1) against whom the Attorney General had authorized the government to seek the death penalty. Excluding 35 defendants who are awaiting or currently on trial on capital charges, 249 of the remaining 503 defendants avoided trial by negotiated plea, when the government dropped its request for the death penalty without a plea agreement, dismissed charges entirely or the judge barred the death penalty. Fourteen were found not guilty of the capital charge. Two others were declared innocent by the government. Charges were dismissed against a third when grave questions were raised about his guilt. There have been sixteen executions. Three defendants died before trial. Two were found incompetent after authorization. Two death row inmates were granted clemency. In cases where juries actually reached the point of choosing between life and death, they imposed 153 (64%) life sentences and 86 (36%) death sentences. Of these 86 sentences of death, 4 defendants received a death sentence twice. Three additional defendants received death verdicts, but new trials were granted before sentencing and life sentences resulted - one by jury, another by plea, a third by judge. An additional defendant received a life sentence, but the government filed for and received a new trial. The dispositions of these cases is summarized below:

The dispositions of these cases is summarized below:

Executed 16
Sentenced to death and now pending appeal 10
Sentenced to death and now pending 2255 37
Died Before Execution 1
Clemency 2
Awaiting retrial or re-sentencing after reversal 1
Death sentence vacated and request for the death penalty withdrawn 7
Life sentences imposed by juries (153) or judges (3) 156
Life sentence vacated and retrial pending 1
Acquittal 14
Capital charges dismissed before trial on grounds of actual innocence 3
Dismissal of death penalty by Judge after death notice filed 27
Requests for the death penalty withdrawn by the government before trial 61
Requests for the death penalty withdrawn at trial 12
Capital prosecution discontinued by government due to plea bargain before trial 124
Capital prosecution discontinued by government due to plea bargain at trial 23
Committed suicide/died 3
Lesser included conviction 3
Incompetent after authorization 2
Death Sentence Reversed — Intellectually Disabled 2
Awaiting or on trial on capital charges33
TOTAL 538 (FN2)

Of the total of 538 (FN2) defendants against whom the Attorney General has authorized the government to request the death penalty, 148 have been white, or 27%, 100 Hispanic, or 19%, 28 Asian/Indian/Pacific Islander/Native American/Filipino/Middle Eastern, or 5% and 262 African-Americans, or 49%. 390 of the 538, or 72%, of the defendants approved for a capital prosecution by the Attorney Generals to date are members of minority groups. Twenty-seven of the forty-seven defendants now on federal death row under active death sentences, or 57%, are non-white. Twenty-nine, or 62%, of federal death row were convicted of killing whites. Only 197, or 37% of the 538 (FN3) authorized killed whites. 103, or 19% of the 538 killed a white female. Fifteen of the forty-seven defendants currently on death row, or 32%, killed a white female. Of the sixteen executions, ten of sixteen (63%) defendants killed a white female and fifteen of sixteen (94%) defendants killed a female.

FN 1: There are three defendants who received a notice of intent from two different indictments: Fackrel (ED TX) has two separate indictments and crimes, both in the ED TX. Knorr and McIntosh (SD IL) (CD CA) have two separate indictments, for the same crime. For purposes of these statistics, they are only counted one time.

FN 2: This totals 538 as Fackrel (ED TX) is reflected both as his death sentence (one case) and awaiting trial (another case).

FN 3: One defendant had no victims.


Federal Death Penalty Resource Counsel, Current Statistics re Use of Federal Death Penalty, January 192021.