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With the Next to Die, The Marshall Project and our reporting partners tracked every execution in the United States from August 2015 to February 2021. By recording each story and noting every death, we wanted to show how the machinery of capital punishment quietly grinds forward while few are watching. Despite the trauma suffered in these cases—all of them marked by profound losses—they are all too often invisible to most of us.
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When we started, there was no detailed, up-to-date schedule of coming executions. We wanted to tell the stories of the people facing death and the lives lost in the crimes for which they were convicted. We wanted to chronicle how their cases proceeded toward their ultimate end. In the process, we hoped to better understand how our courts and prisons dispense their most severe punishment.
On paper, the federal government and 27 states allow juries to impose death sentences for the worst crimes. In practice, fewer than half carry out such sentences. Over the course of our reporting, we followed cases in 15 states and the federal government, which resumed executions in 2020 after a lengthy hiatus. Four of the states we watched—Arizona, Nevada, Oklahoma and South Carolina—did not put anyone to death, though they made efforts to. What you’ll find here on the pages of The Next to Die are the histories of capital punishment and the stories of the men and women put to death.
Our aim was to bring attention to these overlooked executions.The Marshall Project and its journalistic partners do not take a stance on the morality of the death penalty, but we do see a need for better reporting on a punishment that so divides Americans. Even as The Next to Die ends, The Marshall Project will continue to focus on the death penalty and has launched Death Sentences, a new series on important trends and broader issues in capital punishment. We hope after you explore the stories collected here, you’ll continue to follow our coverage on this critical criminal justice issue.