Special Report

States With Most People on Death Row

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

19. Oregon
> Number of prisoners on death row: 21
> Race of prisoners: Black: 2 (9%); White: 15 (68%); Latino/a: 3 (14%); Native: 1 (5%);
> State incarceration rate, 2020: 300 per 100,000 – 24th lowest of all states

For over a decade, Oregon has had a moratorium on carrying out death sentences, imposed by two consecutive state governors. As of April 1, 2022, there were 21 people on death row in Oregon.

In its history, Oregon has executed 124 people, though only two of those executions were carried out since 1976. Whether or not Oregon lifts its moratorium on executions will be up to the next governor. As of this writing, the November 2022 state gubernatorial race has not been called.

Source: 144957155@N06 / Flickr

18. Kentucky
> Number of prisoners on death row: 27
> Race of prisoners: Black: 3 (11%); White: 24 (89%);
> State incarceration rate, 2020: 414 per 100,000 – 8th highest of all states

As of April 1, 2022, there were 27 people on death row in Kentucky – 26 men and one woman. Notably, one of the men on death row in the state, convicted of stabbing his landlord to death in 1995, may have his sentence overturned. Kentucky in 1998 adopted the Racial Justice Act, which gives judges leeway to consider the impact racial bias may have played in convictions when handing out sentences. Currently, three death row inmates in Kentucky are Black.

In its history, Kentucky has executed 427 people, though only three executions have been carried out in the state since the mid-1970s, the most recent of which was in 2008.

17. Arkansas
> Number of prisoners on death row: 29
> Race of prisoners: Black: 14 (48%); White: 14 (48%); Latino/a: 1 (3%);
> State incarceration rate, 2020: 529 per 100,000 – 4th highest of all states

There were 29 people on death row in Arkansas as of April 1, 2022, including three inmates who may have their sentencing reversed. One of them is a man convicted who was sentenced to death in 2016 for killing his 6-year-old son. However, the Arkansas Supreme Court overturned that conviction in 2019 and the inmate is awaiting a new trial scheduled to begin in early 2023.

In Arkansas’ history, over 500 people have been executed by the state, and one person sentenced to death was later found not guilty and freed. In 1992, then presidential candidate and governor of Arkansas Bill Clinton briefly left the campaign trail to oversee the execution of an intellectually disabled man who was found guilty of multiple homicides.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

16. Mississippi
> Number of prisoners on death row: 36
> Race of prisoners: Black: 21 (58%); White: 13 (36%); Latino/a: 1 (3%); Asian: 1 (3%);
> State incarceration rate, 2020: 584 per 100,000 – the highest of all states

There are 35 men and one woman on death row in Mississippi. In the state’s history, seven people sentenced to death were ultimately found not guilty prior to the carrying out of their sentence. They include a mother convicted of murdering her child, when in fact, the bruises on the child initially seen as proof of child abuse were the result of her attempts to resusitate the child.

As recently as May 2022, there was a 37th inmate on Mississippi’s death row, but the state converted his sentence to life in prison with no opportunity for parole.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

15. South Carolina
> Number of prisoners on death row: 37
> Race of prisoners: Black: 19 (51%); White: 17 (46%); Latino/a: 1 (3%);
> State incarceration rate, 2020: 304 per 100,000 – 25th lowest of all states

There are 37 individuals who were sentenced to death in South Carolina. Under state law, a convicted criminal is eligible for the death penalty in a number of cases, including murder via poison, dismemberment of a murder victim, the murder of a child, or murder that is committed in addition to any number of other criminal offenses, such as drug trafficking, torture, kidnapping, or sexual misconduct.

In September 2022, a South Carolina Court ruled that carrying out executions with an electric chair – as opposed to lethal injection – was unconstitutional as it violates the prohibition against cruel and unusual corporal punishment. The last time an inmate was executed in the state by the electric chair was in 2008.

Sponsored: Tips for Investing

A financial advisor can help you understand the advantages and disadvantages of investment properties. Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.

Investing in real estate can diversify your portfolio. But expanding your horizons may add additional costs. If you’re an investor looking to minimize expenses, consider checking out online brokerages. They often offer low investment fees, helping you maximize your profit.