|Some Facts About the Death Penalty
- Approximately 3500 inmates are on death row in 38 state and federal prisons. The largest number, over 600, is in California.
- Since 1973, there have been 117 exonerations of death row inmates.
- Recent Supreme Court decisions have limited the use of the death penalty by declaring it unconstitutional to execute persons with mental retardation and juveniles under the age of 18. The court has also ruled that defendants are entitled to have a jury decide whether to impose the death penalty.
- Twelve states do not impose the death penalty. In recent years, attempts to reinstitute its use in several of them (Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin) have so far failed.
- Only two states do not offer life without parole in capital cases (Texas and New Mexico). The U.S. military and the federal government offer life without parole.