Looking back, we know quite a bit about who has been put to death in the United States. We know that the last person to be executed was , who died by in . We have records that show was the person to have been executed since 1976. In fact, since executions resumed that year following a four-year suspension imposed by the Supreme Court, we know many specifics including race, age, sex and other information about those who have paid the ultimate price in the criminal justice system.
But there has been no detailed, up-to-date schedule of coming executions.
The Next to Die aims to bring attention, and thus accountability, to these upcoming executions. As impartial news organizations, The Marshall Project and its journalistic partners do not take a stance on the morality of capital punishment, but we do see a need for better reporting on a punishment that so divides Americans. Whether you believe that execution is a fitting way for society to deplore the most heinous crimes, or that it is too expensive, racially biased and subject to lethal error, you should be prepared to look it in the face.
As with most criminal justice issues, capital punishment is primarily enforced at the state level. More than half of the states have statutes permitting and regulating the death penalty. (There is also a federal death penalty, which was last used in 2003).
Several states have litigation pending against the death penalty, which has put a halt to executions, at least temporarily. Pennsylvania, a state with one of the most populous death rows, signed 19 execution warrants in 2015 but has not actually executed anyone since 1999, and the governor has recently declared a moratorium. Similarly in California, the state with the most inmates condemned to die, executions have been on hold since a 2006 ruling. Nebraska’s legislature recently repealed the death penalty, a largely symbolic gesture as the state hasn’t executed anyone since 1997.
Then there are the states that are still actively executing inmates on death row. Many operate under the cover of secrecy laws and despite a nationwide shortage of lethal injection drugs. The de facto leader by count alone is Texas, a state that has executed people since 1976. In all, there are nine states that have executed people since 2013: Texas, Oklahoma, Virginia, Florida, Missouri, Georgia, Alabama, Ohio and Arizona. We are also watching Arkansas, which plans to resume executions after a 10-year hiatus.