The twenty-seven states where hanging is legal are
- South Dakota
- South Carolina
- North Carolina
The Death Penalty States
The death penalty is only carried out for crimes deemed capital offenses. These crimes include treason, genocide, war crimes, espionage, and murder. Nobody has been sentenced to death for a crime other than murder since the Supreme Court reinstituted capital punishment in 1976. But 27 states allow for a person to be executed if they’re guilty of murder, even if they weren’t directly liable for the death.
Michigan was the first state to abolish the death penalty in 1847 for all crimes except treason. Reasons: religious leaders considered the death penalty as non-christian. States like Wisconsin and Maine embraced Michigan’s move. Wisconsin became the only US state that has only carried out one execution throughout America’s history.
States With the Highest Rates of Execution
(Figures are drawn from: The Death Penalty in 2021: Year End Report)
Texas leads the country in executions, having executed 574 inmates since 1976. Averagely, Texas executes 12 inmates yearly, over five times more than the second-most state. The lack of a public defender system for indigent inmates leads to higher death penalties. Oklahoma has executed 116 inmates since 1976, an average of 3 executions yearly. As of July 2022, Oklahoma had 43 convicts on death row.
Virginia was the most recent state to abolish capital punishment in July 2021. It executed 113 convicts between 1976 and 2017, when the last execution happened.
Florida has executed 99 convicts, including the serial killer Ted Bundy since 1976. Moreover, as of July 2022, Florida has 303 convicts on death row. Florida is the most recent state to ban the practice of putting death row convicts into solitary confinement while at the correctional facility.
Missouri has executed 92 inmates since 1976, and there are currently 40 inmates on death row. While California has executed 13 inmates since 1976 and nobody since 2007. The state has the largest death row roaster with about 600 convicts. Governor Newsom instituted a moratorium on executions in 2019. He is working to abolish death row and plans to mainline these convicts into general correctional facilities.
Most Common Methods of Executions
Electrocution is legal in only 8 states:
Lethal gas is legal for executions in seven states:
Hanging was the primary method of execution in America. New Hampshire features in states where hanging is legal.
There are also firing squads. Utah took the same tack to South Carolina in 2015, allowing the squads as a backup execution approach. Firing squads are also legal in Oklahoma and Mississippi. Utah’s three executions have been carried out by firing squad, with the most recent in 2010.