Special Report

Where the Most People Have Been Executed in the United States

10. South Carolina
> Number of executions since 1976: 43 (2.8% all U.S. executions)
> Date of last execution: June 5, 2011
> Race of defendants: White: 27; Black: 16;
> Other characteristics: Gave up appeal: 10; Juveniles at time of offense: 1;

There have been 43 state prisoners executed in South Carolina since 1976. The first four prisoners were executed by electrocution between 1985 and 1991. The method for the majority of executions in the state since has been lethal injection. In September 2022, the South Carolina Court ruled that as a method of execution, the electric chair 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.

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. There were 37 individuals on death row in South Carolina as of April 1, 2022.

Source: J. Michael Jones / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

9. North Carolina
> Number of executions since 1976: 43 (2.8% all U.S. executions)
> Date of last execution: August 18, 2006
> Race of defendants: White: 29; Black: 13; Native: 1
> Other characteristics: Gave up appeal: 4; Female defendants: 1

A total of 43 state inmates have been executed in North Carolina since 1976, though 16 years have passed since the last death sentence was carried out in the state. Two of those prisoners were executed in the gas chamber, and the rest by lethal injection. All but one convict executed in North Carolina since 1976 have been men.

Male death row inmates in North Carolina are executed in the Raleigh Central Prison. Women sentenced to death in the state are executed in the North Carolina Correctional Institute for Women, also in Raleigh.

Source: benkrut / Getty Images

8. Ohio
> Number of executions since 1976: 56 (3.6% all U.S. executions)
> Date of last execution: July 18, 2018
> Race of defendants: White: 37; Black: 19
> Other characteristics: Gave up appeal: 6

There have been 56 inmates executed in Ohio since 1976, all killed by lethal injection, and all of them male. Those inmates include one who challenged his sentence on the ground that lethal injection would cause a severely painful death. However, the U.S. Court of Appeals rejected his claim and he was executed in October 2008.

There are currently over 100 people on death row in Ohio, and though there were executions scheduled in the state in recent months, they have been postponed due to a limited supply of lethal injection drugs. The last execution in Ohio was carried out in July 2018. Currently, 30 executions are scheduled in Ohio from 2023 through 2026.

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7. Alabama
> Number of executions since 1976: 70 (4.5% all U.S. executions)
> Date of last execution: July 28, 2022
> Race of defendants: White: 38; Black: 32;
> Other characteristics: Gave up appeal: 7; Female defendants: 1

Alabama has executed 70 people since 1976, including two in 2022. The method of execution of the only female executed in the state in the last 47 years, in May 2002, was the electric chair. Today, lethal injection is the primary method of execution in the state, though death row inmates convicted prior to 2002 can still opt for the electric chair.

Alabama has a high error rate among convicts sentenced to death, with an average of one exoneration for every eight executions. The heavy use of the death penalty in Alabama is partially attributable to the state being the last one to abolish a law allowing judges to choose the death penalty even if a jury decides on life in prison.

Source: Olga Ihnatsyeva / iStock via Getty Images

6. Georgia
> Number of executions since 1976: 76 (4.9% all U.S. executions)
> Date of last execution: Jan. 29, 2020
> Race of defendants: White: 48; Black: 28;
> Other characteristics: Gave up appeal: 1; Juveniles at time of offense: 2; Female defendants: 1

Georgia has executed 76 prisoners since 1976, including one woman and two individuals who were under age 18 when they committed their crime. The most recent execution in the state was in June 2020. One prisoner 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.

Since 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, every execution in Georgia has used lethal injection as the method of execution.

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