Welcome to the Death Penalty Information Center’s new website!

We know that transitions can be difficult – particularly for those of you who have been using the old website for many years. So we have created this guide to help you find pages that have moved and to introduce you to new interactive graphics and other exciting features that we are now able to make available to you for the first time.

Where can I find…?

Upcoming Executions: Under “Executions” in the menu at the top and bottom of each page, click on “Upcoming Executions.”

Execution Database: Under “Executions” in the menu at the top and bottom of each page, click on “Execution Database.”

Innocence (Exoneration) Database: Through the “Innocence” page under “Policy Issues” or directly under “Facts & Research” in the menu at the top and bottom of each page, click on “Innocence Database.”

States with and without the death penalty: Under “State & Federal Info,” click on “State by State.”

Sentencing Information, including death sentences by year: Under “Facts & Research” in the menu at the top and bottom of each page, click on “Sentencing Data.”

DPIC’s Fact Sheet (PDF): Next to the “Donate” link at the top of each page, or at the very bottom of each page just above the “Donate” button.

What are the new categories at the top of the page?

We’ve tried to make it a little simpler to find what you’re looking for by organizing our major pages a bit differently than on our old website. The main blue bar at the top of the page divides our major content into five groups.

“Policy Issues” refers to major topics of debate related to the death penalty, including arbitrariness, costs, and innocence. The pages listed under “Policy Issues” focus on explaining what those issues mean in the context of capital punishment.

“Facts & Research” includes topics that are less theoretical and more specific. On the pages listed under “Facts & Research,” you’ll often find tables, charts, and statistics on things like murder rates or sentencing. You’ll also find our page on the U.S. Supreme Court, and DPIC’s Reports.

When you look at DPIC Reports, you’ll find that we’ve separated our reports into Year End Reports (our annual review of death penalty events), In-Depth Reports, and Special Reports. In-Depth Reports are DPIC’s long, thorough reports on major death-penalty issues. These include “The 2% Death Penalty,” examining geographic arbitrariness in capital punishment; “Behind the Curtain,” our report on secrecy and the death penalty; and “Smart on Crime,” covering costs and law enforcement views on the death penalty. Special Reports are shorter, and typically address a specific event or question. These include DPIC’s analysis of the causes of wrongful capital convictions and the 2017 spate of executions that were scheduled in Arkansas.

“Executions” has information on scheduled executions, past executions, and execution methods.

“Death Row” provides information about people currently under a sentence of death or facing capital resentencing proceedings, including examinations of particular groups of death-row prisoners, such as women, Native Americans, and foreign nationals.

“State and Federal Info” has pages on each jurisdiction within the U.S. – all 50 states, the federal government, and the military – and the jurisdiction’s policies on the death penalty.

In the white bar at the very top of the page, you can click on “About” to find information about DPIC, including our staff, contact information, and press releases. “For the Media” has information for journalists who want to schedule interviews with our executive director. “Resources” provides links to publications, podcasts, and non-DPIC websites on the death penalty, among other items. You’ll find our high school and college curricula under “For Educators.” The top bar also contains our fact sheet, a link to donate to DPIC, and links to our social media accounts.

What new features are there, and how do I use them?

DPIC now offers a variety of interactive graphics made with Tableau. Several pages already feature these graphics, and we are developing even more interactive graphics to be added in the future. You can view and interact with these graphics on any device, but they are easiest to use on a laptop or desktop computer.

Here are just two examples. The State by State page has an interactive map of the status of the death penalty in each state in the United States. (Click on “State by State” under “State & Federal Info” to view this graphic.) You can hover over a state to find out whether it has the death penalty, doesn’t have the death penalty, or has a moratorium on executions. You can select a year to see what state statuses were in that year. You can select a state or region to highlight that particular geographical area. You can select a year of abolition to see which states abolished the death penalty in that year.

On the Race page, you can find a pair of maps with pie charts over each U.S. state, showing the race of executed defendants and the race of murder victims in the underlying crimes. (Click on “Race” under “Policy Issues” to view these graphics, or see below.) These maps also have a variety of filters that let users explore the data over time, examine individual states and regions, or look at the data for particular combinations of race of defendants and victims.

If you’d like to see all of DPIC’s interactive visualizations in one place, click on the word “Tableau” at the bottom of any visualization, then click on “more by this author” in the box that pops up.

Another major new feature you may notice is that some of our tables are interactive. If you see that the column titles in a table are underlined, you can click on a title to sort the table by that column. For instance, the table of women executed since 1976 can be sorted by date, name, race, state, and execution method.

What do you mean by…?

You may not be familiar with all of the legal terms used on DPIC’s website. Here are definitions of a few key terms as they are used on our website, with links to relevant pages.

Capital Murder

Capital murder is murder for which the death penalty may be imposed.

Clemency

Clemency refers to the power of a governor or an official or board in the executive branch to nullify a criminal conviction, to reduce a criminal sentence, or to delay an execution. The governor usually has the power to grant clemency, but an administrative board takes part in making recommendations to the governor in many states.

Commutation

A commutation is a reduction in the sentence that has already been judicially imposed. It is the most common form of clemency in capital cases. The usual commutation sought by defendants is the reduction of the death sentence to life imprisonment.

Death Row

Death row is the term used for the prison or prison unit where death-sentenced prisoners are incarcerated. It is also often used in a more metaphorical sense. A prisoner may be “on death row,” if he or she is sentenced to death, even if he or she is held in a separate medical or psychiatric facility, rather than in the same unit as other prisoners who are sentenced to death.

There are different ways of counting who is on death row. One method includes only prisoners with active death sentences that have not been overturned in the courts. A second method counts all prisoners currently under a sentence of death, including those whose death sentences have been reversed by a lower court order that can still be challenged on appeal. A third method counts all people who have been sentenced to death who face the possibility of execution, including those with active death sentences, those whose convictions and death sentences have been overturned in the courts but can be restored on appeal, and those who have overturned their convictions or death death sentences but still face a retrial or resentencing in which the death penalty can be reimposed.

Exoneration

Exoneration, from the Latin ex onus “to unburden,” refers to the legal process of clearing someone of a conviction. Someone who is exonerated was once convicted of a crime, but has had all legal burden of that conviction removed. In order to be included on DPIC’s list of death-row exonerations, a person who has been convicted and sentenced to death must either receive a full pardon on grounds of innocence, or have his or her conviction overturned and then either be acquitted or have all charges dropped or dismissed.

Life Without the Possibility of Parole (Commonly Known as LWOP)

Life without the possibility of parole is the harshest sentence available in the American legal system, after the death penalty. A person sentenced to life without the possibility of parole will spend the rest of his or her life in prison, unless their conviction or sentence is reversed by a higher court or the sentence is commuted.

Moratorium

A moratorium is a temporary, formal halt to executions. It is most commonly imposed by a governor, who states that no executions will be carried out during his or her term in office, but it can also be imposed by legislation. Governors who have halted executions have raised concerns about bias in the use of the death penalty and have called on their states to further study and discuss the issue.

Pardon

A pardon is a form of clemency in which the executive nullifies the conviction and removes any remaining penalties. Death-row prisoners who are given full pardons are included on DPIC’s Innocence List.

Reprieve

Reprieve is a form of clemency that refers to temporarily delaying the execution of a death sentence or other criminal sentence.

Stay of Execution

A stay of execution is an order by a court blocking a state from carrying out an execution. Some stays are for a defined period of time, so that the court can consider issues raised by the parties in a case. Other stays can halt an execution altogether. Stays issued by a lower court are subject to appeal. In those cases, an appeals court may reverse a lower court’s order and allow the execution to proceed as originally scheduled. Other stays may result in an execution being rescheduled months or years later, or may allow time for additional appeals that reverse the prisoner’s death sentence entirely.