This report presents statistics on persons who were under sentence of death in 2020, state and federal death penalty laws in 2020, and historical trends in executions. The report provides data on which jurisdictions have the death penalty, which jurisdictions carried out an execution in 2020, and which methods of execution are authorized in each jurisdiction. It also presents demographics (including sex, race and ethnicity, age, and education) and criminal history of prisoners under sentence of death. The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) collects information about capital punishment each year through the National Prisoner Statistics program.
- Colorado repealed the death penalty provision of its first-degree murder statute in July 2020, and the governor commuted the death sentences of the three prisoners under previously imposed sentences of death to life without the possibility of parole.
- Seven states received a total of 14 prisoners under sentence of death in 2020, the smallest annual number reported since the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated capital punishment statutes in several states in 1972 (see Furman v. Georgia, 408 U.S. 238 (1972)).
- Nineteen states removed a total of 91 prisoners from under sentence of death by means other than execution in 2020.
- During 2020, 17 states and the BOP reported a decrease in the number of prisoners held under sentence of death, 16 states reported no change, and no states reported an increase in the number of prisoners held under sentence of death.