California Has The Largest Death Row Population In The Country

California Has The Largest Death Row Population In The Country

California has the largest death row population in the country, though the trend showed an opposite effect nationally, according to a study released Friday.

Pew Research Center analyzed data from the Death Penalty Information Center and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, where it found California’s death row population in 2017 increased by almost 100 inmates since January 2000. The state currently has 744 inmates on death row.

“The increase reflects the fact that California juries have continued to sentence convicted defendants to death even as executions themselves have been on hold in recent years amid legal and political disputes,” according to Pew.

California has not executed an individual since 2006, after courts halted a three-drug execution process between February 1996 to January 2006. The courts struck it down because of fear defendants could face inhumane suffering if one of the drugs failed, according to a Los Angeles Times article on Nov. 6, 2015.

The state proposed a single-drug lethal injection on Nov. 6, 2015, though it has not been carried out, the L.A. Times reported. (RELATED: Nevada Judge Postpones Lethal Injection With Hours To Spare At Request Of Drug Company)

Death by capital punishment became the third leading cause of death in California, behind natural causes and suicide, due to the long-term deferral of the death penalty.

Federal death sentences have also increased by 37 inmates since 2003.

The number of deaths across the states, however, decreased from 3,682 to 2,792, or by 24 percent, between 2000 to 2017, according to the NAACP.

The overall decrease in the death penalty could be due to the number of people sentenced to death row have decreased. Other factors include defendants dying from other causes or they were exonerated, according to Pew.

There were 31 states plus the federal government and military that used the death penalty, while 18 states and the District of Columbia did not, according to the study.

The 11 states that have capital punishment have not executed an individual for at least a decade and the U.S. Military has not done an execution since 1961, Pew reported.

Death Penalty Information Center is “an information clearinghouse that has been critical of capital punishment,” while the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund follows death row populations for all 50 states, according to Pew.

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