The Death Penalty Divide: Which States Have It, Which States Don’t? [Map]

Includes interactive map

Oklahoma execution room (OK Dept. of Corrections)

An execution room in Oklahoma (Okla. Dept. of Corrections)

The botched execution of a condemned man in Oklahoma last week reignited America’s perennial debate over the death penalty and the ethics of capital punishment.

Among western democracies, the United States stands alone in its continued use of capital punishment. Since 1976, when the Supreme Court ended a brief moratorium, 1379 inmates have been executed at the hands of the state, and more than 3,000 remain on death row, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. The death penalty is currently legal in 32 states — including California, where a 2012 voter initiative to ban it was narrowly defeated —  as well as within the federal justice system. 

But a series of factors, including botched executions, exonerations, evidence of racial discrimination in sentencing, excessive legal costs and dropping crime rates have all contributed to a growing uneasiness with capital punishment. Although a solid majority of Americans still believe that convicted murderers should be executed, support has waned considerably in the last few decades, according to recent polls. Of the 18 states (and the District of Columbia) that have abolished the death penalty, six have done so just within the last seven years, including, most recently, Maryland in 2013.

In the map below, death penalty states are in brown and states with bans in light blue. Mouse over each state for relevant data. (See article below map.)


  • Ron Smith

    Abolished death penalty or as we like to call it Free health care, room and board and meals for life for monsters Lotto states!

  • Bradley

    Death penalty should b mandatory for peaple who kill 3 or more people, children, and cop killers

  • Jeffrey Lange

    As an execution never brings back the victims, any “justice” it serves is merely a way to appease those left behind. An inmate in jail for life must live, daily, with the weight of his/her crimes. And even among those without remorse, they are stripped of their freedom and made to work for the state for pennies on the dollar.

    We have a responsibility to make sure criminals who have committed heinous crimes do not get another chance to do so. However, while the death penalty assures that, it is not the only assurance nor the best one. When violence is met with violence… and killing a killer is certainly that… we are not our best selves.