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Tracking the condemned: What you need to know about the nation's death row prisoners

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Forty-three years after the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty, reliable data on the individuals sent to death row remains difficult to obtain. But now The Intercept has compiled data on everyone sentenced to die in active death penalty jurisdictions since 1976. The findings indicate that capital punishment remains as “arbitrary and capricious” as ever.

Who ended up on death row? Where they were from? What are outcome of each case? The Intercept's  goal was to create a high-level snapshot of four decades of “modern” capital punishment. 

Both executions and new death sentences are declining year after year. Research continues to expose enduring problems with the death penalty, particularly racism, arbitrary application, and failure to deliver on claims of public safety.

As the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Gregg v. Georgia neared in 2016, The Intercept compiled a dataset of individuals sentenced to death starting on July 2, 1976, the day of the decision.

Data on individuals sentenced to death over the last 43 years was gathered using a number of sources, including state and federal departments of correction, state and federal public defenders, lawyers working for advocacy groups, and individuals who had been tracking this data in their respective states.

For each individual sentenced to die, The Intercept asked for specific data: name, date of birth, race, gender, sentencing date, and current status.

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The data also contain additional information indicating individuals who have died or killed themselves while on death row; individuals who have been resentenced and their current sentence; individuals who have given up their appeals and “volunteered” for execution; and individuals who have been released from prison, exonerated of the charges against them, or had their death sentences commuted by executive branch action.

As of November 30, 2019, the dataset contains information on 7,335 individual death sentences handed down since July 1976. Of these, 2,752 individuals are currently on death row and 1,448 have been executed, while 3,135 people have been removed from death row for a reason other than execution. More than 2,000 have had their sentences reduced. Hundreds have died or killed themselves while on death row. Hundreds more have been released from prison altogether.

For more please read “Counting the Condemned.” 

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