Special Report

This is How Many People are on Death Row in California

More than 70% of countries around the world have effectively abolished the death penalty, including all but one European nation. The United States, however, is an outlier, particularly among developed, democratic countries, and across the country, there are more than 2,000 people on death row.

Under the Biden administration, the federal government has had a standing moratorium on death sentences since July 1, 2021. This followed a period where executions at the federal level surged during the Trump administration.

State governments can form their own laws regarding capital punishment, and at the state level, death sentences and executions have become less common in recent years. Among the 27 states where the death penalty remains legal, its use is limited for those convicted of the most horrific crimes, such as a multiple homicide, murder of a police officer, or murder of a child.

According to Death Row U.S.A. Spring 2022, a report by the Legal Defense Fund, 690 people were on death row in California as of April 1, 2022 – the most among states. It is important to note that California has a standing moratorium on carrying out death sentences.

Death sentences are typically handed down by a jury, and due in part to a lengthy appeals process and a shortage of lethal injection drugs, prisoners often spend years or decades on death row before sentencing is carried out. From 1976, the year the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty after a short-lived prohibition, to April 1, 2022, a total of 13 state prisoners in California were executed.

 

Rank State Death row inmates, April 1, 2022 Executions from 1976 – April 1, 2022 Total prisoners per 100,000 people, 2020
1 California 690 13 247
2 Florida 323 99 371
3 Texas 199 573 455
4 Alabama 166 69 398
5 North Carolina 138 43 271
6 Ohio 134 56 385
7 Pennsylvania 128 3 308
8 Arizona 116 37 495
9 Nevada 65 12 361
10 Louisiana 62 28 581
11 Tennessee 47 13 328
12 Oklahoma 42 116 559
13 Georgia 41 76 433
14 Mississippi 37 22 584
15 South Carolina 37 43 304
16 Arkansas 29 31 529
17 Kentucky 27 3 414
18 Oregon 21 2 300
19 Missouri 20 91 374
20 Nebraska 12 4 269
21 Kansas 9 0 298
22 Idaho 8 3 398
23 Indiana 8 20 351
24 Utah 7 7 166
25 Montana 2 3 362
26 South Dakota 1 5 362
27 New Hampshire 1 0 172

 

Sponsored: Find a Qualified Financial Advisor

Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to 3 fiduciary financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.