Special Report

Where the Most People Have Been Executed in the United States

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5. Missouri
> Number of executions since 1976: 92 (5.9% all U.S. executions)
> Date of last execution: May 3, 2022
> Race of defendants: White: 56; Black: 35; Native: 1
> Other characteristics: Gave up appeal: 5; Juveniles at time of offense: 1

Since 1976, Missouri has executed 92 state prisoners. Most recently, in May 2022, the state executed a 56-year-old man convicted of a 1996 robbery and double homicide. Another man has been sentenced to death on Nov. 29, 2022, for the 2005 murder of a St. Louis police officer.

All 92 people executed in the state in the last 47 years have been men, and all have died by lethal injection. Notably, in 1999, when a prisoner was scheduled to be executed, Pope John Paul was visiting the state and made a personal plea to the governor to spare the prisoner’s life. Ultimately, the inmate’s sentence was commuted to life in prison.

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4. Florida
> Number of executions since 1976: 99 (6.4% all U.S. executions)
> Date of last execution: Aug. 22, 2019
> Race of defendants: White: 62; Black: 28; Latino/a: 8; Native: 1
> Other characteristics: Gave up appeal: 10; Female defendants: 2

Florida has executed 99 state inmates since 1976, more than all but three other states. All but two inmates who were executed were men. As of April 1, 2022, Florida also had 323 people on death row, the second most of any state.

Until 2016, judges in Florida could override a jury’s decision and sentence a convict to death. Since 2017, juries must be in unanimous agreement for a convict to be sentenced to death. Over the course of the last 49 years, a total of 30 death row inmates have been exonerated in Florida due to a wrongful conviction, the most of any state – a rate of about one exoneration for every three people executed.

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3. Virginia
> Number of executions since 1976: 113 (7.3% all U.S. executions)
> Date of last execution: June 7, 2017
> Race of defendants: White: 57; Black: 52; Latino/a: 3; Asian: 1
> Other characteristics: Gave up appeal: 10; Juveniles at time of offense: 3 Female defendants: 1

Virginia is one of only three states to have executed more than 100 prisoners since 1976. These executions include one female convict and three individuals who were under age 18 when they committed their crime. The method of execution in the state until 1995 was the electric chair. From that year on, most executions were conducted using lethal injection.

In 2021, Virginia became the first Southern state to abolish the death penalty. The last execution in Virginia was held on June 7, 2017.

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2. Oklahoma
> Number of executions since 1976: 119 (7.6% all U.S. executions)
> Date of last execution: Nov. 17, 2022
> Race of defendants: White: 72; Black: 38; Latino/a: 1; Asian: 2; Native: 6;
> Other characteristics: N/A

There have been 118 executions in Oklahoma since 1976. Unlike many states on this list that have gone years since their last execution, Oklahoma has executed seven inmates in the last 12 months. The latest execution was carried out on Nov. 17, 2022. One more execution is scheduled for 2022 and another 10 for 2023.

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.

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1. Texas
> Number of executions since 1976: 578 (37.1% all U.S. executions)
> Date of last execution: Nov. 16, 2022
> Race of defendants: White: 257; Black: 209; Latino/a: 109; Asian: 3
> Other characteristics: Gave up appeal: 28; Juveniles at time of offense: 13; Female defendants: 6

Over a third of all executions in the United States since 1976 have taken place in Texas. Texas has executed a total of 578 people over that period, including five far this year. Another six executions are scheduled for 2023.

All of the five counties nationwide that have conducted the most executions in the last 50 years are located in Texas. In Harris County alone, where Houston is located, there have been 127 executions since 1982. The state is infamous for executions, partially because until 2005, the sentence of life in prison without parole was not an option for juries. Texas was also the first state in the country to use lethal injection as a method of execution.

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