10 States With the Most People on Death Row

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As Lonnie Franklin Jr., also known as the Grim Sleeper, heads to death row, it is worth a look at how many people await execution in the 10 states with the largest populations of people sentenced to death. California leads the list, followed by Florida and Texas.

According to the Denver Post:

Detective Daryn Dupree said Franklin is one of the most prolific killers and could have killed as many as 25 women from the late 1970s until his arrest in 2010. That includes the period of 1988 to 2002 when police originally thought the killer took a break — an apparent hiatus that helped coin his nickname.

According to the Death Penalty Information Center, Franklin may wait a very long time before his execution. The average number of months between sentencing and execution was 190 in 2012. Only one year, 2011, had a longer wait period, based on numbers that date back to 1984.

The organization points out that this long period serves a purpose:

The years it takes to carry out a death sentence exact a huge toll – on taxpayers, victims’ families and inmates themselves. Yet without thorough appeals, mistakes in death penalty cases would be missed.

As an example, according to the New York Post, in 2014:

A Brooklyn man locked away for 28 years on a flimsy murder rap walked free today after a judge vacated his wrongful conviction.

Ronald Reagan was still president and a gallon of gas was 89 cents when 16-year-old David McCallum went to jail for a kidnapping and murder he did not commit.

After years of fighting for his freedom — a cause championed by the wrongfully convicted boxer Rubin “Hurricane” Carter — McCallum was finally given a second lease on life.

When Brooklyn Supreme Court Judge Matthew D’Emic said “I will dismiss the indictments” McCallum dropped his head to the table in front of him, remaining motionless as his lawyer Oscar Michelen rubbed his back.

The Death Penalty Information Center keeps a list of people on death row. As of January 1, 2016, the total was 2,943. Here is the list of the top 10 as of that time:

  1. California, 743
  2. Florida, 396
  3. Texas, 263
  4. Alabama, 196
  5. Pennsylvania, 180
  6. North Carolina, 155
  7. Ohio, 143
  8. Arizona, 125
  9. Louisiana, 81
  10. Nevada, 79

Source: Death row population figures come from the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.