More Than One-Third Of All U.S. Executions Took Place In Texas


Written by Ian Millhiser

The Economist maps out every American execution since 1976, when the Supreme Court announced the modern constitutional regime governing death penalty cases after effectively suspending all executions nationwide for four years. Over one-third of all executions during this period took place in Texas, for a total of 481 people killed by that state. Of the remaining, non-Texas executions, the overwhelming majority are clustered in a small group of southern states:

It’s worth noting that, although the death penalty is still technically legal in most states, actual executions are very rare in most of the country — even after a person has been sentenced to death row. According to a 2011 study by the Death Penalty Information Center, thirty-two U.S. jurisdictions executed no one in the previous five years and more than half of those jurisdictions executed no one after the Supreme Court permitted executions to continue in 1976. Only 12 states executed someone in 2010, and only 7 states executed more than one person.

The increasing rarity of the death penalty in most of the country not only reflects America’s evolution away from inhumane and irreversible criminal justice policy, it also has constitutional implications. The Constitution forbids “cruel and unusual punishments,” and the death penalty is increasingly unusual in the overwhelming majority of the nation. At the very least, Texas’ status as the outlier jurisdiction suggests that an Eighth Amendment solution may be necessary.

This post was originally published by ThinkProgress.


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Harsha R.
Harsha R5 years ago

I think Texas is vying for the World's Highest Execution Record in the Guinness Book of Records!

nia o.
nia o.5 years ago

I do think that capital punishment is wrong, but I don't know the exact reason why Texas executed so many people so I can't judge them. They are a bigger state and they may have more capital crimes there as they are next to Mexico. I can't judge, but I can say that I think it is completely wrong. That said, I think that the amount of states that are weaning off of death row is fantastic progress for the US! Yay for jail and not death!

Philip Amos
.5 years ago

Jane B., just one correction re your comment. The Catholic Church is officially, and vehemently, opposed to capital punishment, something the Vatican has not a few times made clear to Texas in particular.

Robert Tedders
Robert T5 years ago

@Christeen A.: AGREED!!

nancy d.
nancy B5 years ago

No surprise there.

Kynthia B.
Cynthia B5 years ago

There are many innocent people on death row

Dominic C.
Dominic C5 years ago

To tell you the truth, capital punishment in the US is on the decline and perhaps in the next few months and years there will be more states joining the abolishment momentum. At the moment, I'd just like to thank and welcome Connecticut for making the right choice.

Christeen Anderson
Christeen A5 years ago

what do you expect from the state that gave us george bush, rick perry, david koresh and the trinity broadcasting network?

John H.
John H5 years ago

The very real danger is an innocent man or woman being convicted and executed by state and then found to be innocent has been the case repeatedly in New Zealand (NZ does not have the death penalty), as the US share with New Zealand the highest rates of prosecuting its citizens in the world and NZ spends more and more money on building new and expensive prisons, our justice system continues to jail it's citizens at a rate of a 100% increase over the past 20 years and some very shoddy prosecutions have lead to major claims for compensation (murder trials).

The conclusion is we have a lot of dumb ass defence lawyers in New Zealand

iii q.
g d c5 years ago

although the death penalty is still technically legal in most states,
actual executions are very rare in most of the country —
even after a person has been sentenced to death row...