BJS: Bureau of Justice Statistics

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Sunday, December 15, 2002 202/307-0784


WASHINGTON, D.C.—Fifteen states and the federal government executed 66 prisoners last year, 19 fewer than in 2000, the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced today.

Sixty-three men and 3 women were put to death during 2001. Forty-eight of them were white, 17 were black and 1 was an American Indian. Three were Hispanics, all of whom were white. They had been on death row an average of 11 years and 10 months, which was 5 months longer than those executed during 2000. All were executed by lethal injection.

As of December 31, 2001, there were 3,581 inmates under sentence of death, 20 fewer than at the end of 2000. During 2001, 155 inmates received a death sentence, representing the smallest number of admissions since 1973 when 44 persons were admitted. Last year, 2001, was the third straight year in which admissions to death row dropped: 304 were admitted in 1998, 282 in 1999 and 229 in 2000.

Among the 38 states with capital punishment laws as of December 2001, California held the most death row inmates (603), followed by Texas (453), Florida (372) and Pennsylvania (241). Alaska, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia and Wisconsin do not authorize capital punishment.

Of the 6,754 prisoners on death row between 1977 and 2001, 11 percent were executed and 4 percent died from other causes.

Among all inmates on death row as of December 31, 2001, the youngest was 19 years old and the oldest 86. Seventy-seven of the 3,311 inmates for whom the date of arrest was available were 17 or younger at the time of the arrest.

Among inmates on death row at year-end 2001 for whom information was available, 64 percent had a prior felony conviction, including 8 percent with a previous homicide conviction.

During 2001, 10 states revised statutory provisions relating to the death penalty. Five states revised their code to exclude mentally retarded offenders from capital sentencing or execution. Two states added aggravating circumstances to their existing statutes, including the murder of a child under age 12 and murder to avoid arrest or prosecution.

Preliminary data for 2002 show that the states executed 68 prisoners from January 1 through December 11, 2002; 67 were given lethal injections, and 1 inmate in Alabama was electrocuted. Texas executed 33 inmates, followed by Missouri, with 6, and Oklahoma, with 5.

The bulletin, "Capital Punishment 2001" (NCJ-197020), was written by BJS statisticians Tracy L. Snell and Laura M. Maruschak. Single copies may be obtained by calling the BJS Clearinghouse at 1-800-851-3420. In addition, this document can be accessed at:

For further information about the Bureau of Justice Statistics and other OJP programs, please see the OJP website at:

Media calls should be directed to Stu Smith in OJP's Office of Communications at or 202-307-0784. After hours: 301-983-9354.

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