Capital Punishment

The Capital Punishment Project works toward the repeal of the death penalty in the United States through strategic litigation, advocacy, public education, and training programs for capital defense teams.

Capital Punishment issue image

What you need to know

166
Between 1973 and 2019, 173 innocent death-row prisoners were exonerated and released.
2%
A mere two percent of this nation's counties have produced both a majority of all executions imposed since 1976 (52 percent) and of prisoners awaiting execution on death row (56 percent).
76%
Seventy-six percent of executions imposed since 1976 were for killing (at least one) white victim.

What's at Stake

The death penalty in America is a broken process from start to finish. Death sentences are predicted not by the heinousness of the crime but by the poor quality of the defense lawyers, the race of the accused or the victim, and the county and state in which the crime occurred. From 1976 to 2015, 1,392 executions occurred in the United States, and 995 of them took place in the South. Time and time again, we have proven that the criminal justice system fails to protect the innocent and persons with serious mental disabilities and illnesses from execution. Even the administration of executions is utterly flawed: Every method of execution comes with an intolerably high risk of extreme pain and torture.

Public support for the death penalty is falling; the numbers of new death sentences and executions are both rapidly decreasing. The time has come for America to end this failed experiment. 

The death penalty in America is a broken process from start to finish. Death sentences are predicted not by the heinousness of the crime but by the poor quality of the defense lawyers, the race of the accused or the victim, and the county and state in which the crime occurred. From 1976 to 2015, 1,392 executions occurred in the United States, and 995 of them took place in the South. Time and time again, we have proven that the criminal justice system fails to protect the innocent and persons with serious mental disabilities and illnesses from execution. Even the administration of executions is utterly flawed: Every method of execution comes with an intolerably high risk of extreme pain and torture.

Public support for the death penalty is falling; the numbers of new death sentences and executions are both rapidly decreasing. The time has come for America to end this failed experiment. 

a hand holding an American flag and a rainbow flag in front of the supreme court building
a crowd of people with fists in the air
Credit: Michelle Frankfurter, Jacquelyn Martin / AP Photos
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