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Capital Punishment, 1999

ADVANCE FOR RELEASE AT 4:30 P.M. EST                    BJS
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 10, 2000                       202/307-0784 


Average Death Row Stay Was 11 Years and 11 Months
     WASHINGTON, D.C.   Twenty states executed 98 prisoners
in the United States during 1999, 30 more than in 1998. 
This was the highest number of executions in a single year
since 1951, when 105 were put to death,  the Justice
Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced
today in its annual capital punishment report. 
     Texas executed 35 prisoners, Virginia 14, Missouri 9,
Arizona 7 and Oklahoma 6.  Arkansas, North Carolina and
South Carolina each put 4 to death.  Alabama, California and
Delaware each executed 2 prisoners.  Nine states (Florida,
Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nevada, Ohio,
Pennsylvania and Utah) executed one.  Twelve states and the
District of Columbia have no death penalty.
     The prisoners executed last year had been under a
death sentence for an average of 11 years and 11 months 13
months longer than that for the prisoners executed in 1998.
     As of December 31,1999, there were 3,527 prisoners on
death row the most in California, (with 553), followed by
Texas (460), Florida (365), Pennsylvania (230) and North 
Carolina (202).  The federal system had 20 death row
     BJS reported that at the end of last year 1,948 white
prisoners were under a death sentence, 1,514 blacks, 28
American Indians, 24 Asians and 13 with other backgrounds. 
Fifty women were under a death sentence in 1999, up from 35
in 1990.  The youngest inmate on death row was 18 years old,
the oldest 84.
     Of the 6,365 people under a death sentence between
1977 (the year executions resumed following U.S. Supreme
Court approval) and 1999, 9 percent were executed; 3 percent
died by other causes, such as natural death, murder or
suicide; and 32 percent received other dispositions, such as
a vacated sentence, a reduced sentence or a new trial.
     The number of states that authorized lethal injection
increased from 20 in 1989 to 34 in 1999.  Last year 96
percent of all executions were by lethal injection, compared
to 44 percent in 1989.  In addition to lethal injection,
states authorize death by lethal gas, hanging or firing
     Between 1930, when the federal government commenced
gathering annual capital punishment data, and 1999, 4,457
men and women were executed in the United States.  Texas put
the most to death (496), followed by Georgia (389), New York
(329), California (299), North Carolina (278), Florida
(214), South Carolina (186), Ohio (173), Virginia (165),
Louisiana and  Mississippi (158 each), Pennsylvania (155),
Alabama (154), Arkansas (139), Kentucky (105), 
Missouri (103), and Illinois (102).
     This year through December 1, 2000, 14 states had
executed 79 prisoners.  Texas carried out 37 executions,
about 47 percent of the total.  Oklahoma executed 11 (14
percent), Virginia 7 (9 percent) and Missouri and Florida 5
each (6 percent).  The Texas total matches the number
executed in that state in 1997 and represents the most
executions in a single state in any year since the federal
government began tracking executions on an annual basis. 
Tennessee carried out its first execution since 1960.
     The report ("Capital Punishment 1999" (NCJ-184795),
was written by BJS statistician Tracy L. Snell.  Single
copies may be obtained from the BJS fax-on-demand system by
dialing 301/519-5550, listening to the complete menu and 
selecting document number 225.  Or call the BJS
clearinghouse number: 1-800-732-3277.  Fax orders for mail
delivery to 410/792-4358.  The BJS Internet site is:
     Additional criminal justice materials can be obtained
from the Office of Justice Programs homepage at:
                       # # #
After hours contact: Stu Smith at 301/983-9354
Date Published: December 10, 2000