The 2% Death Penalty: How a Minority of Counties Produce Most Death Cases At Enormous Costs to All

Source: Richard C. Dieter, Death Penalty Information Center, October 2013

This report focuses on two issues deserving greater public attention: The death penalty is being mainly driven by a small minority of counties that use it aggressively, while most counties in the U.S. do not resort to it at all. These high-use counties do not shoulder their own burdens, but instead shift the costs to every taxpayer, many of whom are unaware of the exorbitant costs or the unfavorable record of reversals and unfairness” (p. 2). Sections following an executive summary are: introduction to how 2% of the counties in the United States produce the majority of capital executions; the death penalty by county; a geographical snapshot of the death penalty; the 2% national death penalty; a few counties dominate within states; costs borne by all; legal failings in representative counties; conclusion; and a list of the top 2% counties.