Fact: 9,722 people were sentenced to death in the U.S. between 1970 and 2009
'Old Sparky', the decommissioned electric chair in which 361 prisoners were executed between 1924 and 1964, is pictured 05 November 2007 at the Texas Prison Museum in Huntsville, Texas. (Getty Images)
September 22nd, 2011
06:53 PM ET

Fact: 9,722 people were sentenced to death in the U.S. between 1970 and 2009

9,722 people were sentenced to death in the U.S. between 1970 and 2009, of which 15% were sentenced since 2000. At the end of 2009, 12 percent of those sentenced since 1970 had been executed, a third were still on death row, and the rest had had their sentence commuted or conviction overturned, died of other causes, or otherwise had their death sentences cancelled. Between sentencing and execution, an average of over 12 years elapse, a duration that has doubled since the 1980s.

In addition to the U.S., there are 57 countries that have the death penalty on the books. Another 34 countries have ended capital punishment in practice, and others still have banned in all but exceptional cases. Meanwhile, 96 countries have abolished the death penalty for all crimes, according to Amnesty International. In 2010, 23 of the nations with capital punishment carried out a total of 527 executions.

The graphs below from the Bureau of Justice Statistics show the U.S. trends in sentencing and in execution over the last few decades.

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Topics: Daily Fact • Law

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soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. Archena

    not being inhumane or anything, why do you have sympathy for someone who has done something so bad to deserve the Death penalty?

    September 22, 2011 at 7:38 pm | Reply
  2. Nicolino

    I' m definetely not familiar with american law system. I only wonder how could you assess and accept that in US different courts could sentence differently? I mean, how could you accept that for the same crime one could be sentenced to death in one of your states and another one won't be sentenced to death as this state accepts death sentences no more....Generally speaking how could you assess and accept that for the same crime and in the same state different courts could sentence differently?

    September 23, 2011 at 2:04 am | Reply
  3. Tom

    obviously, murderers need to pick more carefully which states they choose to murder in..... Maybe they'll learn over time which states are best for killing.

    9722, how many are still alive? Now, the hard question: how many of those executed have re-offended? Answer in 5, 4, 3, 2.......

    September 23, 2011 at 3:02 am | Reply
    • Nicolino

      I've got your opinion. But I just want to focus on courts...how could lawyers accept different evaluations for a same crime...? Obviously, murderes are driven by a kind of rage or mental illness or whatever...so I do believe we have to find different solutions for them...
      But i do believe we have to start with a different and equal approach...

      September 23, 2011 at 4:52 am | Reply
  4. David Witcraft

    Murderers rarely plan their murders in advance, and they really have a mental block on considering the consequences of their actions. This is the only possible explanation for people who continue to kill in Texas, especially Harris County. There is no deterrent effect. I supported it when I was young and believed it could change society for the better. Now I oppose it because it cost's too much and is too arbitrary.

    September 23, 2011 at 3:13 am | Reply
    • Bozo

      Iif you live on Brazil you will change your mind, Here you can be a mass murderer and the max sentece you will have is 12 years if you are a very poor and with no influence person. Take a Life pay with yours simple like that.

      September 23, 2011 at 10:23 am | Reply
    • Kelsie Greatorex

      same, my holister model<3

      June 11, 2012 at 5:37 am | Reply
  5. j. von hettlingen

    The U.S. penalty law is still a remnant of the ancient Roman law: Retributive justice – an eye for an eye.

    September 23, 2011 at 4:41 am | Reply
    • Nicolino

      Ok...but it is not common and spread even between US states and courts...so it's barely unfair

      September 23, 2011 at 4:55 am | Reply
  6. Tom

    Again, " how many of those executed have re-offended?" The real point, IMO.

    September 23, 2011 at 8:34 am | Reply
  7. DD

    India has most modern civilized democratic law, please follow it..........

    September 23, 2011 at 1:18 pm | Reply
  8. Tom

    You mean that India where children are malnourished while the rats eat the food they might have had?

    September 23, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Reply
    • Kelsie Greatorex

      agreed my beauty pageant queen xoxoxoxoxo

      June 11, 2012 at 5:40 am | Reply
  9. Juliet Taylor

    I totally disagree! I think having the death penalty as punshiment is inhumain and should be illegal in every conrty. Some people are wrongly convicted and therefore will die for no reason.

    June 11, 2012 at 5:32 am | Reply
    • Kelsie Greatorex


      June 11, 2012 at 5:36 am | Reply

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