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Death Penalty

A 2 percent death penalty? Capital sentences are concentrated in just a few counties, report says

Posted Oct 2, 2013 9:06 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Only 2 percent of the counties in the United States have been responsible 52 percent of the executions since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, according to a new report by the Death Penalty Information Center.

Similarly, only 2 percent of U.S. counties are responsible for 56 percent of today’s death-row population, the report (PDF) says. Eighty percent of the counties in the U.S. currently have no one on death row. The Los Angeles Times has a story and a press release summarizes the findings.

“Contrary to the assumption that the death penalty is widely practiced across the country,” the report says, “it is actually the domain of a small percentage of U.S. counties in a handful of states.”

The top 10 counties among the 2 percent responsible for more than half of the nation’s death row population are: Los Angeles County, Calif.; Harris County, Texas; Philadelphia County, Pa.; Maricopa County, Ariz.; Riverside County, Calif.; Clark County, Nev.; Orange County, Calif.; Duval County, Fla.; Alameda County, Calif.; and San Diego County, Calif.

A different set of counties executes the most inmates, likely because of differences in the appeals courts that hear the appeals, the Los Angeles Times says.

The top 10 counties among the 2 percent of counties responsible for more than half of the executions since 1976 are: Harris County, Texas; Dallas County, Texas; Oklahoma County, Okla.; Tarrant County, Texas; Bexar County, Texas; Montgomery County, Texas; Tulsa County, Okla.; Jefferson County, Texas; St. Louis County, Mo.; and Brazos County, Texas.

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