So far this year, preliminary data show that the states executed 60 prisoners from January 1 through November 7, 2003. Lethal injection was used in 59 of the executions, while one prisoner was electrocuted. During 2003, Texas has executed 21, followed by Oklahoma with 14 and North Carolina with 5.
While executions increased, 2002 marked the fourth straight year during which death row admissions dropped -- 304 death row inmates were admitted in 1998, 282 in 1999, 232 in 2000 and 163 in 2001. During 2002, 159 persons received a death sentence, the lowest number since 1973, when 44 persons were put on death row.
As of December 31, 2002, federal and state authorities held 3,557 inmates on death row, 20 fewer than at the end of 2001. A total of 3,601 prisoners were on death row on December 31, 2000.
Among the 38 states with capital punishment laws as of December 2002, California held the most death row inmates (614), followed by Texas (450), Florida (366) and Pennsylvania (241). The Federal Bureau of Prisons held 24 inmates. Twelve states and the District of Columbia do not authorize capital punishment.
BJS also reported that:
Eleven states revised statutory provisions relating to the death penalty during 2002. Five states changed their statutes to allow jurors rather than judges to determine the presence of aggravating factors. One state authorized lethal injection as a method of execution; one raised the minimum age for which the death penalty can be given and one revised its code to exclude the mentally retarded from capital sentencing or execution. One state had portions of its death penalty statute overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.