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Capital Punishment


The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) collects data on persons held under sentence of death and persons executed during the calendar year from the state departments of corrections and the Federal Bureau of Prisons, see Capital Punishment series. Reports produced from this collection summarize the movement of prisoners into and out of death sentence status. The data describe prisoners’ sex, race, Hispanic origin, education, marital status, age at time of arrest for the capital offense, and legal status at the time of the offense. Reports also include information on removals, including execution trends and time between imposition of death sentence and execution. BJS also collects preliminary counts of executions during the following year to provide web users with the most recent available data, see Prisoners executed.

Recent Data Collections

Terms & Definitions

Capital punishment

Capital punishment refers to the process of sentencing convicted offenders to death for the most serious crimes (capital crimes) and carrying out that sentence. The specific offenses and circumstances that determine if a crime is eligible for a death sentence are defined by statute and are prescribed by Congress or any state legislature.

Death row

Death row refers to incarcerated persons who have been sentenced to death and are awaiting execution (as in "inmates on death row"). Historically, death row was a slang term that referred to the area of a prison in which prisoners who were under a sentence of death were housed. Usage of the term continues despite the fact that many states do not maintain a separate unit or facility for condemned inmates.
Date Created: February 18, 2021