Special Report

States With Most People on Death Row

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

29. New Hampshire (repealed the death penalty)
> Number of prisoners on death row: 1
> Race of prisoner: Black: 1 (100%)
> State incarceration rate, 2020: 172 per 100,000 – 8th lowest of all states

New Hampshire became the 21st state to abolish capital punishment on May 30, 2019. Even before the new law came into effect, New Hampshire had not executed a prisoner in 80 years.

The end of the death penalty is not retroactive, however, and New Hampshire currently has one inmate on death row who was convicted of murdering a police officer. Exactly how or when he would be executed is unclear, as there has been no date set and the state has no execution chamber. Some experts speculate that the death row inmate’s sentence will be reduced.

28. South Dakota
> Number of prisoners on death row: 1
> Race of prisoner: White: 1 (100%)
> State incarceration rate, 2020: 362 per 100,000 – 15th highest of all states

The death penalty has been instated in South Dakota continuously since 1979. Since the start of the 20th century, the state has executed 11 people, four of whom were executed since the beginning of 2012.

South Dakota’s sole death row inmate is an Alaska Native convicted of torturing and killing the resident of a home he burglarized while high on methamphetamine and LSD. In 2020, the convict appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court who refused to hear his case.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

27. Montana
> Number of prisoners on death row: 2
> Race of prisoners: White: 2 (100%)
> State incarceration rate, 2020: 362 per 100,000 – 15th highest of all states

Montana has killed 74 prisoners, most recently in 2006. In 1995, the state switched execution methods from hanging to lethal injection.

There are currently two death row inmates in Montana. One was convicted of kidnapping and murdering two Native American men who picked him up while hitchhiking. The other was already serving a 130-year sentence for murder when he beat a fellow inmate to death with a baseball bat in 1990 and sentenced to death for that murder. Not long after, he and seven other inmates took over a section of the prison in a riot that resulted in the deaths of five protective custody inmates.

26. Military
> Number of prisoners on death row: 4
> Race of prisoners: Black: 2 (50%); White: 2 (50%);
> Incarceration rate, 2020: N/A

Members of the U.S. military are subject to a separate set of laws than civilians, and as is the case in many states, the military may impose the death penalty in certain cases. There are currently four men on death row under military jurisdiction in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Each has been convicted of multiple murders, often along with other crimes such as kidnapping and rape.

The most recent death sentence in the U.S. military was handed down in 2013 to the perpetrator of the 2009 shooting at Fort Hood, Texas, that left 13 dead.

25. Utah
> Number of prisoners on death row: 7
> Race of prisoners: Black: 1 (14%); White: 4 (57%); Latino/a: 1 (14%); Native: 1 (14%);
> State incarceration rate, 2020: 166 per 100,000 – 7th lowest of all states

There are currently seven men on death row in Utah. All have been living with their sentence for decades, including three who were sentenced in the 1980s. Each has delayed his execution through the appeals process.

Utah has executed a total of 50 people and is the only state to execute inmates by firing squad in the modern era. The last execution in the state was carried out by firing squad in 2010. Two of the state’s current death row inmates are slated to die by firing squad.

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