Let's Do the Numbers

  • The death penalty was banned between 1972 and 1976 because of racial and procedural imbalances in the way it was applied. Since it was reinstated, 558 people have been executed.
  • More than 3,500 inmates are awaiting execution in the United States, 69 of them in South Carolina (as of 4/1/99) All of them are male -- 37 black, 32 white.
  • South Carolina has executed 261 people since 1912: 62 whites, 199 blacks and two women.
  • Some 74 people on Death Row have been freed on evidence that they did not commit the crimes for which they were condemned to death, including two in South Carolina. In Illinois, 11 inmates on Death Row have been found to be wrongly accused and released, the same number the state has executed.
  • The South accounts for nearly 80 percent of all executions. It is the only region to experience a rise in serious crime last year, according to the Justice Department.
  • Five juveniles are on South Carolina's Death Row. The youngest person ever executed in South Carolina was a 14-year-old black male. The oldest was a 66-year-old black man.
  • Thirty-three mentally impaired people have been executed in the United States since 1976.
  • The rate of executions in the United States is accelerating -- from one in 1977 to 74 in 1998. The number of crimes punishable by death is also rising.
  • South Carolina jurors are not informed that they may hand down a sentence of life without parole as an alternative to the death penalty. Polling shows that, if given a choice, most people choose the former.
  • The American Bar Association has called for a moratorium on executions, citing a lack of fundamental due process guaranteed to all prisoners.
  • A survey by the National Law Journal showed that more than half of the inmates on Death Row in six Southern states had been represented by lawyers who had never before handled a capital case.
  • Not one person on any Death Row is rich.

Sources: American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International and the S.C. Department of Corrections.

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