Capital Punishment in USA Term Paper

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From 1977 to 2007, the number of death sentences per capita was as follows: Alabama .89, Oklahoma .818, Mississippi .558, Nevada .546, Delaware .497, North Carolina .481, Florida .463, South Carolina .422, Arizona .412, Arkansas .399, Texas .379, Louisiana .342, Missouri .313, Pennsylvania .277, Ohio .270, Tennessee .270, Idaho .267, Georgia .236, Illinois .233, California .219, Kentucky .193, Virginia .192, Oregon .184, Indiana .148, Nebraska .147, Wyoming .134, Montana .104, Maryland .094, South Dakota .075, New Mexico .071, Utah .068, New Jersey .066, Washington .057, Connecticut .037, Kansas .029, Colorado .027, and New York .004 (Death Penalty Information Center, Death Sentences Per Capita by State). Therefore, it becomes clear that the leaders in executions may not be the per capita leaders in executions, and that one must examine executions in comparison to state populations.

The number of executions in each state also varies dramatically, and some of that variance becomes clearer when one looks at recent numbers. For example, in 2011, of the 34 states with the death penalty, 21 and the federal government of them had no executions (Death Penalty Information Center, Facts about the Death Penalty). Likewise, in 2010, 22 states and the federal government had no executions (Death Penalty Information Center, Facts about the Death Penalty). However, some states had significant numbers of executions in those years. In 2011 executions by state, for those that had executions, were: Texas 13, Virginia 1, Oklahoma 2, Florida 2, Missouri 1, Alabama 6, Georgia 4, Ohio 5, South Carolina 1, Arizona 4, Mississippi 2, Delaware 1, and Idaho 1 (Death Penalty Information Center, Facts about the Death Penalty). In 2010 executions by state, for those states that had executions, were: Texas 17, Virginia 1, Oklahoma 1, Florida 1, Alabama 5, Georgia 2, Ohio 8, Louisiana 1, Arizona 1, Mississippi 3, Utah 1, and Washington 1(Death Penalty Information Center, Facts about the Death Penalty). Examining the number of executions since 1976, one sees some major differences in the numbers of executions per state. The number of total executions in each state since 1976 is as follows: Texas 477, Virginia 109, Oklahoma 96, Florida 71, Missouri 68, Alabama 55, Georgia 52, Ohio 46, North Carolina 43, South Carolina 43, Louisiana 28, Arizona 28, Arkansas 27, Indiana 20, Mississippi 15, Delaware 15, California 13, Illinois 12, Nevada 12, Utah 7, Tennessee 6, Maryland 5, Washington 5, Nebraska 3, Pennsylvania 3, Kentucky 3, Montana 3, Oregon 2, Idaho 2, Connecticut 1, New Mexico 1, Colorado 1, Wyoming 1, South Dakota 1, and the U.S. government 3 (Death Penalty Information Center, Facts about the Death Penalty).

Murder rates seem to vary by state as well. In 2010, the national murder rate was 4.8 people per 100,000 people (Death Penalty Information Center, Murder Rates). Murder rates in death penalty states are higher, on average, than murder rates in non-death-penalty states (Death Penalty Information Center, Murder Rates). However, there is no direct correlation between the number of executions and the murder rate; Texas is far and away the leader in executions, but its murder rate was 5.0 in 2010, while Maryland, a non-death-penalty state, had a 7.4 murder rate in 2010 (Death Penalty Information Center, Murder Rates).

It is important to keep in mind that murder rates cannot necessarily be correlated with death penalty rates. Some states may be more successful at arresting and prosecuting murder suspects, so that arrest rates become an important factor. In addition, in some states, a killer with several victims could be enough to significantly skew results, since that person could only be executed a single time. It is much more helpful to be able to compare the number of people arrested for murder with the number of people given the death penalty than it is to compare the number of people killed with the number of people given the death penalty. In 2010, the states had the following numbers of murders: Alabama 176, Alaska 25, Arizona 315, Arkansas 67, California 1548, Colorado 120, Connecticut 104, Delaware 31, Florida 852, Georgia 410, Hawaii 22, Idaho 13, Illinois 264, Indiana 115, Iowa 20, Kansas 43, Kentucky 113, Louisiana 163, Maine 19, Maryland 271, Massachusetts 87, Michigan 187, Minnesota 90, Mississippi 116, Missouri 145, Montana 9, Nebraska 60, Nevada 113, New Hampshire 5,…[continue]

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