A new report by the Death Penalty Information Center shows that only two percent of the counties in the United States have been responsible for the majority of cases leading to executions since 1976.
Likewise, only two percent of the counties are responsible for the majority of today’s death row population and recent death sentences.
The death penalty is not evenly distributed across the country. DPIC found that since 1976, the South has carried out 82% of the executions.
“Eighty-five percent of the counties in the U.S. have not had a single case resulting in an execution in over 45 years,” said Richard Dieter, DPIC’s Executive Director and author of the report. “The relatively few prosecutors who drive the death penalty create enormous burdens for those outside their district. The rest of the country is paying a high tariff on behalf of the small percentage of the counties that are actually using the death penalty.”
The report concludes that the death penalty campaigns of relatively few counties impose lasting obligations on the entire state: “This peculiar exercise of discretion results in enormous expenses being passed on to taxpayers across the state. Moreover, the correlation between the high use of the death penalty and a high rate of error means that courts in these states will be occupied for years with costly appeals and retrials. Some states have recently chosen to opt out of this process, at great savings to their taxpayers.”