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July 2, 2022

Furman at 50: DPIC provides a census of nearly 10,000 death sentences

As noted in this recent post, the US Supreme Court's remarkable death penalty opinion in Furman v. Georgia, 408 U.S. 238 (1972), is now a half-century old, which provides me with an excuse to do a series of "Furman at 50" posts.  Helpfully, I am not the only one celebrating this milestone, and the Death Penalty Information Center has created a remarkable "Death Penalty Census."  As described here, this "census is the most comprehensive database of death sentences ever assembled, containing more than 9,700 death sentences." Here is more:

In the census, DPIC has attempted to identify every death sentence handed down in the U.S. from the day Furman was decided through January 1, 2021 and track the status of each sentence. The data provide powerful evidence that the nation’s use of capital punishment continues to be arbitrary, discriminatory, and rife with error....

The database contains the name, race, and gender of each defendant sentenced to death; the state and county (or federal district or military branch) of prosecution; the year of sentencing; the outcome of the particular sentence; and the final outcome or current status of the case.

Here are just a few of many "key findings" from DPIC’s analysis of more than 9,700 death sentences that were sent to me via email:

Related prior post:

July 2, 2022 at 10:44 PM | Permalink


The most glaring, and revealing, omission from all this data: A single executed person who NEUTRAL authorities have found was factually innocent. In other words, the DPIC, probably the single most prominent abolitionist organization out there, cannot name one person out of almost ten thousand who was executed but didn't do it.

That would make American executions in the modern era the most error-free practice in the history of government (and maybe anything else).

Two other omissions that stand out: A list of victims (how many were children, the elderly, mentally and physically handicapped, minorities, police, jurors, witnesses, etc.), and a list of the methods of murder (torture, lying in wait, poisoning, being buried alive, and numerous others abolitionists like to pretend don't exist).

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jul 3, 2022 9:12:10 AM

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In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB