Special Report

Where the Most People Have Been Executed in the United States

35. Wyoming
> Number of executions since 1976: 1 (0.1% all U.S. executions)
> Date of last execution: Jan. 22, 1992
> Race of defendants: White: 1
> Other characteristics: N/A

Since the U.S. Supreme Court resinstated the death penalty in 1976, Wyoming has executed a single prisoner. The individual was sentenced to death for ordering the 1979 murder of a witness who was set to testify against him in court for the bombing of an attorney’s home – a crime he was in custody for at the time he ordered the murder.

The bombing, which was committed in 1977, resulted in the death of the attorney, his wife and son. The slain witness was apparently tortured before being killed, as he was found with over 100 cigarette burns and a fatal gun shot wound. The death sentence was carried out by lethal injection in the early hours of Jan. 22, 1992.

Another man was on death row in Wyoming for the kidnapping, rape, and murder of an 18-year-old woman, but prosecutors waived the death sentence in September 2021 and there are currently no inmates on death row in the state.

Source: powerofforever / iStock via Getty Images

34. Colorado
> Number of executions since 1976: 1 (0.1% all U.S. executions)
> Date of last execution: Oct. 13, 1997
> Race of defendants: White: 1
> Other characteristics: N/A

Colorado became the 22nd state to abolish the death penalty on March 23, 2020, when Gov. Jared Polis signed SB 20-100 into law. The bill also commuted the sentences of the state’s three death row inmates to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Between 1976 and 2020, when the death penalty was legal in Colorado, the state executed one convict. The prisoner was sentenced to death for the 1986 kidnapping, raping, and murder of his neighbor. The method of his execution was by lethal injection in October 1997.

Notably, the perpetrator of the 2012 movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado, that left 12 dead and dozens injured was sentenced to life in prison without the chance of parole after the jury could not reach a unanimous decision on a death sentence.

Source: Photographer and original uploader is/was TedE / Wikimedia Commons

33. New Mexico
> Number of executions since 1976: 1 (0.1% all U.S. executions)
> Date of last execution: June, 11, 2001
> Race of defendants: White: 1
> Other characteristics: Gave up appeal: 1

New Mexico is one of several states on this list that no longer has a death penalty. Between 1976 and the 2009 repeal of the death penalty, the state executed one prisoner. In 2001, New Mexico executed its last prisoner, in its first execution in 41 years. The convict was sentenced to death in 1996 for the 1986 kidnapping and murder of a 9-year-old girl while he was out on bail for the rape of a 6-year-old girl. The method of his execution was by lethal injection.

When then Gov. Bill Richardson abolished the death penalty in New Mexico in 2009, he cited the imperfections of the justice system that result in innocent people being put to death and the overrepresentation of minority populations on death row. Upon repeal, there were two men still on death row in the state, though their sentences were commuted to life in prison a decade later by the state’s supreme court.

32. Connecticut
> Number of executions since 1976: 1 (0.1% all U.S. executions)
> Date of last execution: June 13, 2005
> Race of defendants: White: 1
> Other characteristics: Gave up appeal: 1

Connecticut has executed one person since 1976. The prisoner was a serial killer known as the Roadside Strangler who was convicted of murdering four women and girls and confessed to four additional killings. When his sentence was carried out by lethal injection in the early morning hours of June 13, 2005, he became the first person to be executed in New England in 45 years. Leading up to his execution, the prisoner attempted suicide three times, citing the oppressive living conditions of prison life.

In colonial times, Connecticut exercised the death penalty for crimes including blasphemy and witchcraft. The first person, a woman, executed for witchcraft in what is now the United States was hanged in Hartford in May 1647.

Like several other states on this list, Connecticut no longer applies the death penalty. In 2012, the state abolished the death penalty, and a 2015 Connecticut Supreme Court ruling converted the sentences of the state’s 11 death row inmates to life in prison without parole.

Source: Shasta_Lin_Photography / iStock via Getty Images

31. Oregon
> Number of executions since 1976: 2 (0.1% all U.S. executions)
> Date of last execution: May 16, 1997
> Race of defendants: White: 2
> Other characteristics: Gave up appeal: 2

Though the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976, capital punishment was not legal in Oregon until it was established by popular vote in 1978. Then, in 1981, the state supreme court declared the death penalty unconstitutional – only to have it reinstated by voters in 1984.

Now, for more than a decade, Oregon has had a moratorium on carrying out death sentences, imposed by two consecutive state governors. Whether or not Oregon’s Gov. elect Tina Kotek will continue the moratorium remains to be seen. As of April 1, 2022, there were 21 people on death row in the state. Oregon has executed two defendants since 1976 – one in 1996 and another in 1997.

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