Only 2% of Counties Are Responsible for Majority of Death Penalty in U.S.

According to a new report just released by the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC), just two percent of the counties in the U.S have been responsible for the majority of cases leading to executions since 1976.  Similarly, only two percent of the nation’s counties are also responsible for the majority of those currently on death row and recent death sentences.

According to Richard Dieter, DPIC’s Executive Director, “Eighty-five percent of the counties in the U.S. have not had a single case resulting in an execution in over 45 years. The relatively few prosecutors who drive the death penalty create enormous burdens for those outside their district. The rest of the country in paying a high tariff on behalf of the small percentage of the counties that are actually using the death penalty.”

The top ten counties among the two percent responsible for more than half of the nation’s death row population are: Los Angeles County, CA; Harris County, TX; Philadelphia County, PA; Maricopa County, AZ; Riverside County, CA; Clark County, NV; Orange County, CA; Duvall County, FL; Alameda County, CA; and San Diego County, CA.

The top ten counties among the two percent of counties responsible for over half of the executions since 1976 are:  Harris County, TX; Dallas County, TX; Oklahoma County, OK; Tarrant County, TX; Bexar County, TX; Montgomery County, TX; Tulsa County, OK; Jefferson County, TX; St. Louis County, MO; and Brazos County, TX.

Four counties in Texas (out of 254 counties) are responsible for almost half of all executions in the state, and three counties in California produce more than half of that state’s death row.

According to research conducted by the Tennessee Justice Project, approximately 38% of our Tennessee’s death row population comes from only one county–Shelby County–while half of the state’s counties have never sentenced anyone to death.

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