Executions by County

Although counties do not carry out executions, in almost all states the decision to seek the death penalty is made by the county district attorney.  A small number of counties are responsible for a disproportionate number of the executions in the United States. DPIC's Execution Database now has information on the original county for each case.  Search results can be sorted by county.

Top 15 Counties by Execution Since 1976

Top 15 Counties by Execution Since 1976 (Excluding Texas)

Top 10 Counties by Number of Murders 2006 - 2010

2012 Death Sentences by Name, Race, and County

Top 15 Counties by Execution Since 1976

Total Number of Counties in the U.S. = 3,143 (source:  U.S. Census Bureau)

Execution numbers accurate as of 1/1/2013

These 15 counties accounted for 30% of the executions in the U.S. since 1976.  They represent less than 1% of the total number of counties in the country, and less than 1% of the total number of counties in states with the death penalty.

Executions by County

Top 15 counties since 1976
(major cities within county in parentheses):

 1.  Harris County (Houston), TX - 116
 2.  Dallas County (Dallas/Fort Worth), TX - 50
 3.  Oklahoma County (Oklahoma City), OK - 38
 4.  Tarrant County (Fort Worth), TX - 37
 5.  Bexar County (San Antonio), TX - 36
 6.  Montgomery County, TX - 16
 7.  Tulsa County, OK - 15
 8.  Jefferson County, TX -14
 9.  St. Louis County, MO - 13
 10. St. Louis City, MO - 12
 11. Potter County, TX - 11
 11. Pima County (Tuscon), AZ - 11
 11. Maricopa County, AZ - 11
 11. Brazos County, TX - 11
 11. Nueces County, TX - 11

The following 16 counties accounted for 14% (191 executions) of the executions in the U.S. since 1976.  They represent less than 1% of the total number of counties in the country, and less than 1% of the total number of counties in states with the death penalty.

Top 16 counties since 1976
Not including Texas
(major cities within county in parentheses):

 1.  Oklahoma County (Oklahoma City), OK - 38
 2.  Tulsa County, OK - 15
 3.  St. Louis County, MO - 13
 4.  St. Louis City, MO - 12
 5.  Pima County, AZ - 11
 5.  Maricopa County, AZ - 11
 7.  Hamilton County, OH - 10
 7.  Jefferson County, AL - 10
 7.  Miami-Dade County, FL - 10
 7.  Mobile County, AL - 10
 11. New Castle County, DE - 9
 11. Prince William County, VA - 9
 13. Charleston County, SC - 8
 13. Chesterfield County, VA - 8
 13. Clark County, NV - 8
 13. Virginia Beach City, VA - 8

Top 10 counties by number of murders
2006 - 2010
(major cities within county in parentheses):

 1.  Los Angeles County, CA (Los Angeles)
 2.  Cook County, IL (Chicago)
 3.  Harris County, TX (Houston)
 4.  Wayne County, MI (Detroit)
 5.  Philadelphia County, PA (Philadelphia)
 6.  Baltimore City, MD
 7.  Kings County, NY (part of New York City)
 8.  Orleans Parish, LA (New Orleans)
 9.  Dallas County, TX (Dallas)
 10. Maricopa County, AZ (Phoenix)

Murder data source: FBI Uniform Crime Reports 2006 - 2010

Execution data taken from DPIC's Execution Database.  Thanks to Professor Frank Baumgartner at University of North Carolina for county information.

Additional resources:

See F. Baumgartner "The Geography of the Death Penalty" (2010)
R. Smith, "The Geography of the Death Penalty and it's Ramifications" (Boston University Law Review, forthcoming)
J. Liebman and P. Clarke, "Minority Practice, Majority's Burden: The Death Penalty Today" (Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law, forthcoming)

See also Arbitrariness

The Clustering of the Death Penalty