Special Report

States With Most People on Death Row

14. Georgia
> Number of prisoners on death row: 41
> Race of prisoners: Black: 22 (54%); White: 16 (39%); Latino/a: 3 (7%);
> State incarceration rate, 2020: 433 per 100,000 – 7th highest of all states

There were 41 people on death row in Georgia in April 2022. One of the men was scheduled to be executed in May 2022 for the 1976 abduction and murder of two girls walking home from school. However, the day before his execution was to be carried out, a judge halted the execution and a new date has yet to be set.

More than 1,000 inmates have been executed in Georgia, including 77 since 1976. Lethal injection serves as the means of execution in the state after a 2001 Georgia Supreme Court ruling found the electric chair to be in violation of the state constitution under the grounds that it is cruel and unusual punishment.

13. Oklahoma
> Number of prisoners on death row: 42
> Race of prisoners: Black: 17 (40%); White: 20 (48%); Latino/a: 3 (7%); Native: 2 (5%);
> State incarceration rate, 2020: 559 per 100,000 – 3rd highest of all states

Unlike many states on this list that have gone years since their last execution, Oklahoma has executed six inmates in the last 12 months. The latest execution was carried out on Oct. 20, 2022. Two more executions are scheduled for 2022 and another 10 for 2023.

Though there were 42 death row inmates in the state as of April 1, 2022, with executions ongoing, that number has since changed. More executions have been carried out in Oklahoma County – home to Oklahoma City – in the last 50 years than in any other county outside of Texas. Many of those executed in the state had some sort of intellectual, mental, or developmental impairments, according to Death Penalty Information Center. Several of the inmates on death row also have mental illness or brain damage, according to the organization.

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12. U.S. federal government
> Number of prisoners on death row: 44
> Race of prisoners: Black: 17 (39%); White: 19 (43%); Latino/a: 7 (16%); Asian: 1 (2%);
> Incarceration rate, 2020: 358 per 100,000

The federal government has had a moratorium on carrying out executions imposed by Attorney General Merrick Garland on July 1, 2021. While no federal death sentence will be carried out as long as the moratorium stands, there were 44 death row inmates under federal jurisdiction as of April 1, 2022. According to Death Penalty Information Center, only one federal death row prisoner has a sentence related to terrorism. The rest were already serving sentences for their crimes at the state level, but circumstances allowed for federal prosecution as well (such as a vehicle used in a carjacking once shipped through interstate commerce).

Federal death row prisoners are typically housed at the Special Confinement Unit at the U.S. Penitentiary Terre Haute in Indiana. Each federal death sentence must be authorized by the Department of Justice in consultation with the U.S. Attorney Offices.

In the final months of the Trump administration, there was a surge in federal executions. From July 2020 through January 2021, the U.S. government executed 13 prisoners. The last time the federal government carried out a death sentence before Trump’s presidency was in 2003.

Source: txking / iStock via Getty Images

11. Tennessee
> Number of prisoners on death row: 47
> Race of prisoners: Black: 23 (49%); White: 22 (47%); Asian: 2 (4%);
> State incarceration rate, 2020: 328 per 100,000 – 22nd highest of all states

There are currently 46 men and one woman on death row in Tennessee. The state’s oldest death row inmate is 72-years-old and was sentenced in 1990. The youngest person on death row is 33 and was sentenced in 2018.

Due to breaches of protocol, the state has put a hold on executions for an indefinite amount of time. The hold has been in place since Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee issued a reprieve to an inmate facing an imminent execution in April 2022. Since then, an independent investigation found multiple instances of noncompliance regarding executions in the state related to lethal injection drugs, including faulty testing procedures and improper storage and handling.

10. Louisiana
> Number of prisoners on death row: 62
> Race of prisoners: Black: 42 (68%); White: 17 (27%); Latino/a: 3 (5%);
> State incarceration rate, 2020: 581 per 100,000 – 2nd highest of all states

Louisiana is one of only 10 states with more than 60 people on death row. As of April 1, 2022, there were 61 men and one woman on death row in the state. Sentencing for the men is planned to be carried out at the Angola State Penitentiary, and the woman’s execution is to take place at the St. Gabriel Correctional Institute for Women. Until a 2008 Supreme Court decision overturned the law, offenders in Louisiana who had not committed murder were eligible for the death penalty in certain cases.

Notably, Louisiana has not carried out a death sentence since 2010. Over the last two decades, 11 prisoners have died awaiting their execution date. As is the case in much of the country where executions are carried out, the Louisiana justice system is up against a shortage of the drugs used in lethal injections, as pharmaceutical companies push back against their products being used for capital punishment.

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