Death Penalty Quiz
Welcome to the Death Penalty Quiz. Click on your answer to see if you are correct and then return to the next question.
A.1. (T) Although it is certainly cheaper to inject someone with deadly chemicals than to incarcerate them for 30 or 40 years, the best studies on the cost of the death penalty indicate that it costs about $2 million more per execution in a state with capital punishment than for a system which imposes a life sentence, including the cost of incarceration. Moreover, about 70% of the costs occur at trial with only a minority of the costs for the appeal. Q.2
A.1 (F) That's right. Although the costs of incarceration are expensive (about $25,000 per year per inmate), that amounts to $750,000 to $1,000,000 depending on whether a person lives 30 or 40 years after their sentencing. A death sentence, on the other hand, including all costs leading up to an execution, is about $3 million. Q.2
A.2 (T) No, about 35% of those who have been executed have been black, while 56% have been white. However, blacks constitute only about 11% of the U.S. population, so their execution rate is much higher than the rate of whites being executed. Q.3.
A.2 (F) Correct. Since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, most executions have been of white people. However, racial bias in the use of the death penalty is shown when one looks at the race of the victims in the underlying crime which resulted in sending the inmate to death row. You are much more likely to receive the death penalty if the person you murder is white than if the person you murdered is black. Q. 3.
A.3 (T) Yes. Gilmore refused to appeal his conviction or sentence and was executed only three months after his trial. Q.4
A.3 (F) No. These facts are True. Two other persons were executed by firing squad since Gilmore, also in Utah. The last two defendants could have received lethal injection if they had so requested. Q.4
A.4 (T) Incorrect. There have now been over 130 people released from death row with substantial evidence of their innocence. In almost all of these cases, there was a re-trial ending in acquittal, or the state dropped charges after the conviction was thrown out by a higher court. Q.5
A.4 (F) Correct. There have now been over 130 people released from death row with substantial evidence of their innocence. Thus, for every 9 executions carried out, we have been finding another person on death row who is innocent. Q.5
A.5. (T) No. The Supreme Court ruled in Atkins v. Virginia (2002) that this practice is unconstitutional. States are slowly changing their laws to reflect the Court's ruling on this issue. Mental retardation is now called intellectual disability. Q.6
A.5. (F) Yes. The practice of executing those with mental retardation (intellectual disabilities) was banned by the Supreme Court in 2002. The Court noted that a national consensus to ban the practice had developed. Q.6
A.6 (T) Not quite true. There are 15 states plus the District of Columbia which do not have the death penalty. However, there is a federal death penalty which governs certain crimes in every state. Q.7
A.6 (F) The statement is false because no matter what state you commit a crime in you could still receive the federal death penalty, providing you have broken one of the laws for which that federal penalty applies. For example, certain acts of kidnapping in which a death occurs could merit the death penalty, regardless of what state the crime occurs in. Q.7
A.7 (T) No. There have been three hangings in the U.S.since 1994. Q.8
A.7 (F) Yes. Delaware hanged one man in 1996 and the state of Washington has conducted 2 hangings in the 1990s. Q.8
A.8 (T) Right. According to a Peter Hart Research Poll conducted in 1995 of police chiefs around the country, the chiefs named such measures as reducing drug abuse, better economy, and controlling guns as more important than the death penalty in reducing violent crime. This poll was replicated in 2008 with similar results. Q.9
A.8 (F) Incorrect. A national poll of police chiefs in 1995 also found that the majority of police chiefs do not believe that the death penalty is an effective law enforcement tool. This poll was replicated in 2008 with similar results. Q.9
A.9. (T) No. Velma Barfield was the first woman executed after the reinstatement of the death penalty. She was executed by lethal injection in North Carolina in 1984, over 25 years ago. But since then, over 10 additional women have been executed. Q.10
A.9 (F) Yes. Velma Barfield was the first woman executed after the reinstatement of the death penalty. She was executed by lethal injection in North Carolina in 1984, over 25 years ago. But since then, over 10 additional women have been executed. There are over 50 other women on death row today awaiting execution. Q.10
A.10 (T) No. In Roper v. Simmons (2005), the Supreme Court barred the death penalty for anyone under 18 at the time of their crime. Thanks for taking the quiz. Return to DPIC's home page for more information.
A.10 (F) Correct. The statement is False. Since 2005, anyone under the age of 18 at the time of their crime is exempt from the death penalty. Thanks for taking the quiz. Return to DPIC's home page for more information.
Those interested in the above quiz may also be interested in DPIC's two educational curricula:
High School Curriculum - This award-winning curriculum includes 10-day lesson plans, background information on the death penalty, and also outlines commonly raised pros and cons of the death penalty.
College Curriculum - The college-level curriculum contains teaching cases of individuals who were sentenced to death in the United States. The curriculum provides a detailed narrative account of each individual’s legal case, including resources such as the original reports from the homicide investigation, affidavits, and transcripts of testimony from witnesses.