Capital Punishment in 1995

Capital Punishment in 1995

Bureau of Justice Statistics

"Capital Punishment in 1995" by Bureau of Justice Statistics. Alaska Justice Forum 14(1): 2-3 (Spring 1997). During 1995, sixteen states executed 56 prisoners, the largest number of prisoners executed in a year in the U.S. since 1960. A total of 313 executions have taken place since 1977. This article was adapted from the BJS bulletin "Capital Punishment 1995", NCJ-172881.

In 1995, 56 persons were executed in the United States. The number of persons executed was 25 greater than in 1994. It was the largest annual number since the 56 executed in 1960 and the 65 in 1957. The executions occurred in the following states: 19 in Texas; 6 in Missouri; 5 each in Illinois and Virginia; 3 each in Florida and Oklahoma; 2 each in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania; and 1 each in Arizona, Delaware, Louisiana, Montana, and South Carolina. All were men. Thirty of the executed prisoners were non-Hispanic whites; 22 were non-Hispanic blacks; 2, white Hispanics; 1, Asian; and 1, white with Hispanic origin not identified. Forty-nine of the executions were carried out by lethal injection and 7 by electrocution.

Figure 1. Persons Executed in the United States, 1930-1995

The prisoners executed during 1995 had been under sentence of death an average of 11 years and 2 months, about 12 months more than the average for inmates executed the previous year.

From January 1, 1977, to December 31, 1995, a total of 4,857 persons entered state and federal prisons under sentences of death, among whom 51 per cent were white, 41 per cent were black, 7 per cent were Hispanic, and 1 per cent were of other races.

During this 19-year period, a total of 313 executions took place in 26 states. Of the inmates executed, 171 were white, 120 were black, 19 were Hispanic, 2 were Native American, and 1 was Asian.

Table 1. Status of the Death Penalty, December 31, 1995

Also during 1977-95, 1,870 prisoners were removed from a death sentence as a result of dispositions other than execution (resentencing, retrial, commutation, or death while awaiting execution). Of all persons removed from under a death sentence, 52 per cent were white, 41 per cent were black, 1 per cent were Native American, 0.5 per cent were Asian, and 5 per cent were Hispanic.

In 1995 eight jurisdictions did not specify a minimum age for which the death penalty could be imposed. In some states the minimum age was set forth in the statutes that determine the age at which a juvenile may be transferred to criminal court for trial as an adult. Thirteen states and the federal system required a minimum age of 18; one state, age 19. Sixteen states indicated an age of eligibility between 14 and 17.

Table 2. Demographic Characteristics of Prisoners Under Sentence of Death, 1995

The preceding article was derived from Bureau of Justice Statistics report "Capital Punishment 1995," NC-162043. Copies of the entire report may be obtained from the Alaska Justice Statistical Analysis Unit or on the World Wide Web from the Bureau of Justice Statistics web site at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/.