Alabama’s Death Sentencing and Execution Rates Continue to be Highest in the Country


In the face of growing evidence about the unreliability of the death penalty, and in sharp contrast with the national trend again death sentences, Alabama continues to sentence more people to death per capita than any other state in the nation.

Alabama has the highest death sentencing rate in the country. In 2010, more people were sentenced to death in Alabama than in Georgia, Maryland, Virginia, Arkansas, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and Louisiana combined.

The death sentencing rate in Alabama is nearly six times greater than in Texas. Last year, Alabama – with a population of 4.7 million – sentenced more people to death than Texas – with a population of 24.8 million.

In addition to having the highest sentencing rate, Alabama executed more people per capita in 2010 than any other state in the country. Alabama executed five people last year.

The latest data from the U.S. Department of Justice and the Death Penalty Information Center shows that Alabama continues to condemn and execute people at a disproportionately high rate even as other states continue to move away from capital punishment in favor of more effective and less expensive ways to improve public safety.

Alabama is the only state in the country that permits judges, without limitation, to override a jury verdict of life without parole and impose a death sentence. More than a quarter of Alabama’s death row prisoners were condemned to death by an elected judge after the jury decided life was the appropriate sentence. In 2008, an election year, 30% of death sentences were imposed by judicial override of jury life verdicts.