About Death Row
Since 1973, 185 people who were wrongfully convicted have been exonerated from Death Row in the United States. Unfortunately, many more like Rickey, are still here awaiting justice. Learn how you can help set them free. Rickey’s case exemplifies the severe problems with mass incarceration, the death penalty, and the American criminal justice system. It is important to get educated, and join the efforts to truly bring justice for all.
The State of Texas has executed 572 people since 1982. Of these, 279 occurred during the administration of Texas Governor Rick Perry (2001-2014), more than any other governor in U.S. history. Executions peaked in Texas in 2000, when 40 people were put to death. Texas is one of only two states – along with the federal government – to put anyone to death during the global pandemic. It has carried out two executions to date in 2021.Two of the last three people executed by the State of Texas were under the age of 21 at the time of the crime. In 2020, the State of Texas executed three people, the fewest executions since 1996. Eight other execution dates were stayed or withdrawn due primarily to the public health crisis.
Wrongful Convictions and Executions
Since 1973, 185 individuals who spent time on death row have been exonerated. This includes 16 people convicted and sentenced to death in Texas, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.
There also is strong evidence that the State of Texas has executed innocent people, including Carlos DeLuna, Ruben Cantu, Cameron Todd Willingham, Gary Graham (Shaka Sankofa), and most recently, Larry Swearingen, who was put to death in August 2019.
Death sentences by race and gender
The imposed disproportionately on people of color. Over the last five years, 70% of death sentences have been imposed on people of color in Texas.
While the Black population of Texas is less than 13% of residents, Black individuals constitute 44.7% of death row inmates, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ). Hispanics comprise 25.6% and whites comprise 26.6% of the death row population.
Read “Race and ‘future dangerousness’ in the Texas death penalty”
Read “Enduring Injustice: the Persistence of Racial Discrimination in the U.S. Death Penalty,” a report by the Death Penalty Information Center.
The Cost of the death penalty
In Texas, the cost of an average death penalty case is nearly three times higher than imprisoning someone in maximum security for life, according to a study by the Dallas Morning News. See TCADP’s fact sheet on the cost of the death penalty for details.
“Experts discuss cost of the death penalty amid era of growing decline,” Community Impact Newspaper (Richardson edition), March 18, 2020
Download these fact sheets (as of July 1, 2021)
Facts about the Texas Death Penalty
The Death Penalty in Bexar County
The Death Penalty in Harris County
The Death Penalty in North Texas (Dallas and Tarrant counties)
The Cost of the Death Penalty Download PDF
Death Penalty Basics Download PDF
Carlos DeLuna Fact Sheet Download PDF Spanish PDF
Cameron Todd Willingham Fact Sheet Download PDF
Answering the Tough Questions Download PDF
Background information on the Texas death penalty is available here.
Mental Illness Case Studies:
James Colburn (download PDF)
Monty Delk (download PDF)
Scott Panetti (download PDF)
Kelsey Patterson (download PDF)