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Capital Punishment, 1984

NCJ Number
Date Published
August 1985
Publication Series
Statistics on prisoners under sentence of death during 1984 accompany summaries of the year's legislation and U.S. Supreme Court decisions on the subject.

At the end of the year, 1,405 prisoners were under sentence of death, and 21 had been executed. All these prisoners were convicted of murder. Seventeen were female; two-thirds had a prior felony conviction. Nearly 63 percent were held by States in the south, 21 percent by western States, 12 percent by north central States, and 4 percent by northeastern States. U.S. Supreme Court decisions struck down State law requiring the death penalty for specified crimes and established that a State need not require a review of each sentence for its proportionality with comparable cases. It also held that jurors could be excused if the trial judge deemed their views on the death penalty as preventing or impairing the performance of their duties. At yearend, 37 States and the Federal Government had laws authorizing the death penalty. New York and Massachusetts struck down the death penalty through court decisions. Nine States changed their existing death penalty laws. Eight States provided for more than one method of execution. Twenty-one States specified a minimum age for imposing the death penalty. Data tables on the criminal histories of those under sentence of death, State-by-State profiles, footnotes, and an appendix discussing race and capital punishment.

Date Published: August 1, 1985