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Capital Punishment 1980

NCJ Number
Date Published
July 1981
This bulletin presents statistics on executions, social demographic characteristics of death-row prisoners, methods of removal from death row, and developments in capital punishment law.

Events in 1980 appeared to signal the end of an era of major developments in capital punishment that began roughly 20 years ago. As the year ended, there were more people awaiting execution than at any time since a national count was begun in 1953. Thirty-six States had a death penalty statute in force, 30 States were holding prisoners on death row, and 25 States had imposed the death penalty during the year. A total of 714 persons were under sentence of death in the United States at the end of 1980, 136 more than a year earlier. During the year, 187 persons were sentenced to death and 48 persons were relieved of the death penalty. No executions occurred in 1980. Of the 30 States with death-row prisoners at yearend, all except Utah had either increased their count or held the same number as a year earlier. Blacks accounted for roughly two out of every five death-row prisoners, about the same as in 1978 and 1979. Prior to 1976, blacks constituted half or more of all such prisoners. The number of new death-row prisoners, 187, represented a 14 percent increase over the number sentenced in 1979 but was lower than those of 1975, 1976, and 1978. Two graphs, one table, and three footnotes are supplied. (Author abstract modified)

Date Published: July 1, 1981