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Death penalty statistics: More than 3,200 inmates await execution

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 2:40 AM EDT, Thu September 22, 2011

(CNN) -- The high-profile execution of Troy Davis in Georgia has brought the death penalty back into the spotlight. Here are some facts on the current state of the death penalty, the clemency process and statistics in Georgia.

Death penalty statistics:

-- More than 3,200 inmates in 36 states are awaiting execution. The U.S. government and U.S. military also have approximately 67 people awaiting execution.

-- As of September 18, 2011 -- 1,267 people have been executed in the U.S. since 1976, when the death penalty was reinstated.

-- Capital punishment is legal in 34 states.

-- The legal methods of capital punishment are lethal injection and the electric chair.

-- 35 states use lethal injection. New Mexico abolished the death penalty in 2009; however, two prisoners remain on death row and will be executed by lethal injection.

-- The state of Nebraska used the electric chair as its sole method until February 2008, when the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional.

-- Japan is the only industrial democracy besides the United States that has the death penalty.

-- 268 clemencies have been granted in the United States since 1976; 187 were in Illinois.

-- Over 75% of the murder victims in cases resulting in an execution were white, even though nationally only 50% of murder victims generally are white.

-- A 2010 national poll of registered voters conducted by Lake Research Partners showed growing support for alternatives to the death penalty compared with previous polls. A clear majority of voters (61%) would choose a punishment other than the death penalty for murder, including life with no possibility of parole and with restitution to the victim's family (39%), life with no possibility of parole (13%), or life with the possibility of parole (9%).

-- Since 1973, over 130 people have been released from death row with evidence of their innocence.

-- Texas leads the way in executions with 475 total executions. In 2011 they executed 11 people, in 2010 they executed 17 people and in 2009 they executed 24 people. Virginia comes in with the second highest number of total executions at 109. In 2011 they executed one person, in 2010 and 2009 they executed 3 people each year.

Clemency statistics:

-- In sixteen states the governor has the sole authority to grant clemency: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming.

In California the governor may not grant a pardon or commutation to a person twice convicted of a felony except on recommendation of the state Supreme Court, with at least four judges concurring. New York and New Jersey no longer have the death penalty. New Mexico no longer has the death penalty for cases after 2009, though two inmates still remain on death row.

-- In seven states the governor must have a recommendation of clemency from an advisory group or board: Florida, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Texas.

-- In Florida, the governor must have recommendation of Board, on which he or she sits.

-- In 10 states, the governor can get a nonbinding recommendation for clemency from an advisory group or board: Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, Ohio and Tennessee. Illinois no longer has the death penalty.

-- In five states, an advisory group or a board determines clemency: Connecticut, Georgia, Nebraska, Nevada and Utah.

Georgia death penalty statistics:

-- Georgia has executed 52 people since 1976.

-- In 1972, the case Furman v. Georgia went to the Supreme Court along with two other cases the looked at the constitutionality of the death sentence for rape and murder convictions. The Supreme Court ruled to invalidate all then-existing death penalty laws because it was deemed "cruel and unusual" effectively suspending capital punishment. States then began rewriting their statutes to comply with the Court's ruling.

-- The death penalty was re-enacted in Georgia in 1973. In 1976, the new law was taken to the Supreme Court where they ruled that Georgia's new capital punishment procedure were sufficient in reducing arbitrary imposition of the death penalty.

-- Prior to 1976, Georgia executed 950 people.

-- Currently there are 102 people on death row in Georgia. One of them is a woman.

-- In Georgia, a defendant can get death for a felony where they are not responsible for the murder.

-- Five innocent people have been freed from death row in Georgia.

-- Seven clemencies have been granted. In Georgia, the State Board of Pardons has exclusive authority to grant clemency. Georgia is one of five states that operates this way.

Sources: CNN, U.S. State Department, Death Penalty Information Center

Mallory Simon

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