Death Row

BOOKS: “Last Rights” by Rev. Joseph Ingle with Introduction by Mike Farrell

Reverend Joseph B. Ingle’s book, Last Rights: Thirteen Fatal Encounters with the State's Justice, will be re-released in May with a new introduction by Mike Farrell (of M*A*S*H*) and with its original forward by William Styron.  Rev. Ingle, who has counseled inmates on death row for over 30 years, recounts his close relationships with 13 of these inmates before their executions. Devoting a chapter to each one, Ingle stresses the need to see each inmate as an individual. He writes, “The public needs to see them for who they were and how their love enriched my life.”

DPIC Releases Interim Death Row Numbers

The Death Penalty Information Center has conducted a survey of death row populations as reported by the various state departments of correction in January/February 2008. From that survey, the current death row population across the country is 3,263. California continues to have the highest death row population with 669 inmates. Florida follows with 388, and Texas has 370 inmates. A state-by-state breakdown appears below.

Except for Illinois and the federal government, these numbers are the official totals from each state's prison system. The death row number for Illinois comes from the Supreme Court Unit of the Public Defender's Office in Springfield, while the federal number comes from the Federal Death Penalty Resource Counsel and the Federal Defender Organization.

BOOKS: "The Bitter Fruit of American Justice" and "I Shall Not Die"

Two new books address the death penalty from different perspectives: one analyzing the future of capital punishment, the other, by Billy Neal Moore, relates the experience of being on death row. Alan Clarke and Laurelyn Whitt examine two factors that are gaining importance in the debate over capital punishment. The Bitter Fruit of American Justice (Northeastern 2007) contends that increasing opposition to the death penalty throughout the world could affect how other countries relate politically to the United States. The second influence is the repeated discovery of innocent people on America’s death rows. The authors suggest that these two factors could lead to the end of the death penalty in the United States.

Man on Texas Death Row for over 30 Years May Be Tried for a Fourth Time

Ronald Curtis Chambers, who was originally sentenced to death for the 1975 murder of Mike McMahan, may be given a fourth trial following a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court. Chambers was 20 at the time of his crime, and has been on death row longer than any other inmate in Texas. His second trial came 10 years after his first, following a Texas court ruling that Chambers should have been told that information from a psychiatric consultation could be used against him.

Death Row News and Developments: 2007

NEW RESOURCE: "Death Row USA" Winter 2007 Report Now Available The latest edition of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund's "Death Row, USA" reports that the number of people on death row in the United States rose slightly to 3,350 as of January 1, 2007, an increase of 6 inmates from October 1, 2006, but a decline of 23 inmates from a year ago. The slight increase appears to be partly the result of the relatively few executions in the last quarter of 2006. California (660), Florida (397), and Texas (393) continued to have the largest death row populations.

Nationally, the racial composition of those on death row is 45% white, 42% black, and 11% Latino/Latina. Of jurisdictions with more than 10 people on death row, Texas and Pennsylvania continue to have the largest percentage of minorities on death row, 69% and 70% respectively. Nearly 80% of the murder victims in the crimes that resulted in executions were white. (Generally, only about 48% of murder victims are white.)

NEW RESOURCE: "Death Row USA" - Winter 2007 Report Now Available

The latest edition of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund's "Death Row, USA" reports that the number of people on death row in the United States rose slightly to 3,350 as of January 1, 2007, an increase of 6 inmates from October 1, 2006, but a decline of 23 inmates from a year ago. The slight increase appears to be partly the result of the relatively few executions in the last quarter of 2006. California (660), Florida (397), and Texas (393) continued to have the largest death row populations.

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Execution Approaching for Longest Serving Inmate on Texas Death Row

One of the first inmates scheduled to be executed in 2007 is Ronald Chambers, who has been on death row since Gerald Ford was President, and longer than any other inmate in Texas.  He is facing execution on January 25, thirty-one years after he was first sentenced to death for murder.  His co-defendant in the crime, Clarence Ray Williams, pleaded guilty and is serving two life sentences. Chambers' conviction was overturned twice since 1976, including once on the grounds that prosecutors improperly excluded three black people from his jury.  (Associated Press, CNN.com, December 12, 2006). 

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RESOURCES: DEATH ROW USA Fall 2006 Now Available - Florida Surpasses Texas

The latest edition of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund's "Death Row, USA" reports that the number of people on death row in the United States has continued to decline, falling to 3,344 as of October 1, 2006. The size of death row has been declining since 2000 after 25 years of steady increases. For the first time in many years, Florida (398) surpassed Texas (392) in the size of its deathrow. California (657) continued to have the largest death row.

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