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BJS Reports Death Penalty Trends In 2005

by Michael Rigby

In 2005, 16 states executed 60 prisoners?one more than in 2004, according to a Bureau of Justice Statistics report released in December 2006.

Those executed in 2005 included 38 whites, 19 blacks, and 3 Hispanics. As for gender, 59 men and 1 woman were executed that year. All 60 were killed by lethal injection.

With 19 executions in 2005, Texas had the dubious distinction of executing the most prisoners. Indiana, Missouri, and North Carolina followed with 5 each. Georgia and South Carolina both carried out 3 executions; California performed 2; and Connecticut, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Maryland, and Mississippi executed 1 each.

A total of 3,254 prisoners were on death row in 2005. Most were in California (646), followed by Texas (411), and Florida (372).
Thirty-seven were under federal death sentences. In all, 38 states and the federal government had death penalty statutes on the books in 2005.

Between 1977 and 2005, 33 states and the federal government performed 1,004 executions. Nearly two-thirds occurred in 5 states. Texas led by far with 355 executions, followed by Virginia (94), Oklahoma (79), Missouri (66), and Florida (60).

Those executed in 2005 spent an average of 12 years and 3 months on death row, 15 months longer than the prisoners executed in 2004.

Though the U.S. still performs an unacceptably high number of executions, the tide may be turning. According to the report, the 128 prisoners sentenced to death in 2005 represented the smallest annual number imposed since the death penalty was reinstated in 1973.

A lucky few of those under a death sentence in 2005 obtained relief. The Federal Bureau of Prisons and 22 states reported 109 prisoners whose death sentences had been removed or overturned. Texas, not surprisingly, had the highest number of prisoners whose death sentences were removed: 31.
This report, Capital Punishment, 2005, is on PLN?s website.

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