DEATH SENTENCES IN
      Based on recently released                 With a population of only 4.5
data, Alabama sentenced more               million people, Alabama’s 13 new
people to death per capita in              death sentences were greater than the
2006 than any other state in the           11 new death sentences imposed in
country. While the rate of death           Texas, which has a population of 23.5
sentencing in the rest of the country      million people.
declined 8% in 2006 compared to the
previous year, Alabama handed down
23% more death sentences in 2006           In Alabama, 28% of
than in the previous year.                 death sentences in 2006
       Based on the latest data from the   w e r e th e r e s u l t o f
Bureau of Justice Statistics, Alabama      judicial override.
lead the nation in the rate of new death
sentences for the fifth straight year.

In 2006, Alabama sentenced more            Alabama Leads The Nation in
people to death than Tennessee, South      Death Sentencing Because of
Carolina, Virginia, Kentucky and           Judicial Override
Kansas combined.
                                                   A major factor behind Alabama’s
                                           dominance of the per capita death
Alabama sentenced six                      penalty rankings lies in the capacity of
times more people to                       trial judges to override the sentencing
                                           verdicts of juries.
death per capita in 2006
than Texas.                                      Alabama is the only state other
                                           than Florida that permits trial judges
                                           to impose a different sentence than the
sentenced recommended by the jury in                     continuation of a downward trend in
the penalty phase of a capital case.                     the nationwide total of death sentences
And Alabama is the only state in the                     imposed in capital cases. As recently as
country that permits trial judges to                     1999, for example, a total of 284 death
impose a death sentence in cases                         sentences were imposed by courts
where a majority of jurors have                          across the country.
recommended a sentence of life in
prison without possibility of parole.                           But Alabama is bucking the
                                                         national trend. Over the past three
       Of those persons currently on                     years, there has been an average
death row in Alabama, approximately                      annual decline of 14% in the rate of
22%      first   received      jury                      death sentencing nationwide. By
recommendations of life without                          contrast, in Alabama over the same
parole that were then overridden by                      time period, there has been an average
trial judges in favor of the death                       annual increase of 22% in the rate of
sentence.                                                death sentencing. This an alarming
                                                         statistic, because it demonstrates that
       2006 saw the continuation of                      Alabama is seriously out of kilter with
this practice. Indeed, 28% of death                      the rest of the nation.
sentences in Alabama in 2006 were the
result of judicial override, including                   Race Remains a Key Factor
Oscar Roy Doster, who received a
unanimous 12-0 jury verdict for LWOP                           Race continued to be a key factor
that the trial judge replaced with a                     in death sentencing in Alabama in
death sentence.                                          2006. Despite the fact that 65% of all

In Contrast with the National                            homicide victims each year in Alabama
Trend, Alabama Death Sentences                           are black, approximately 88 % of death
Increased in 2006                                        sentences handed down by Alabama
                                                         courts in 2006 were for crimes
       In 2006, a total of 115 death                     involving victims who were non-black
sentences were handed down by courts                     (white, Latino, other).
in 21 states across the United States.
T h is s ta tis tic r e p resen ted th e                                           February          2008

  Equal Justice Initiative = 122 Commerce Street, Montgomery, Alabama, 36104 = 334-269-1803 =

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