17 October 2020 :
The Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) has issued new report documenting the continuing historic decline of the death penalty across the United States.
On September 29, 2020, BJS released Capital Punishment, 2018 – Statistical Tables, documenting that death row in the United States has decreased in size for 18 consecutive years from 2001 to 2018.
According to BJS, 2,628 prisoners were under sentence of death in a total of 30 states and the federal government at the close of 2018, a 3% decline from the year-end 2017 total. Just three states — California (28%), Florida (13%), and Texas (8%) — accounted for nearly half of all condemned prisoners in the country at year-end 2018.
Nineteen states across the United States held fewer prisoners under sentence of death at the end of 2018 than when the year began, while only two states and the federal Bureau of Prisons had an increase.
The states that experienced the largest declines in the number of prisoners under sentence of death were Pennsylvania and Texas, each with 11 fewer prisoners each. Pennsylvania had 10 capital convictions or death sentences overturned in the courts and two prisoner deaths in custody, with no executions and one new death sentence. Texas had three convictions or death sentences overturned in the courts and one gubernatorial commutations against 13 executions and six death sentences or capital resentencings. Nationwide 64 prisoners were released from death row as a result of court decisions (61) or commutations (3), while 25 died by execution and 24 others died in custody on death row.
BJS also reported that the average time elapsed between a death sentence and execution in 2018 was 19 years, 12 months, down from 20 years, 3 months, but still the second longest since executions resumed in the U.S. in 1977.