Eleventh Circuit Has Nation’s Highest Death Sentencing Rate


New EJI data analysis shows that the Eleventh Circuit – comprised of Alabama, Florida, and Georgia – has a higher per capita death sentencing rate than any other federal circuit.

The Deep South states that make up the Eleventh Circuit, with a combined population of 33 million people, sentenced more people to death in 2008 than the Ninth Circuit, which has nearly twice as many people (61 million).

More people were condemned to die in 2008 in the Eleventh Circuit than in the Sixth (Tennessee, Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan), Fifth (Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi), Fourth (Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina), Third (Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware), Second (New York, Connecticut, Vermont), and First (Maine, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Massachusetts) Circuits combined.

The death penalty has been disproportionately employed in the Eleventh Circuit over the past three decades. As the chart above shows, since 1977, the Eleventh Circuit’s per capita death sentencing rate (1.99 per million) is significantly higher than the second-ranked Fifth Circuit (1.58).

The Eleventh Circuit also has the nation’s highest proportion of citizens currently on death row. Its death row incarceration rate (21.42 per million) is significantly higher than the Fifth Circuit (15.72). In 2008, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida had 700 people condemned to death; Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi combined had less than 500.

Together with evidence about the extreme high cost of death-penalty prosecutions, these figures also indicate that taxpayers in Alabama, Georgia, and Florida shoulder a disproportionately high financial burden compared to citizens in other circuits.