Data Tracker

How California Death Row inmates die

By Phillip Reese - preese@sacbee.com

Since California reinstated the death penalty in 1977, the state has sentenced more than 900 people to death. Only 13 have been executed.
Since California reinstated the death penalty in 1977, the state has sentenced more than 900 people to death. Only 13 have been executed. mcrisostomo@sacbee.com

California juries have sentenced more than 900 murderers to death in the last 40 years. The state has executed 13 of them.

The death penalty in California is receiving fresh attention. A federal appeals court heard arguments last month on whether the state's death penalty is unconstitutional, given the length of time it takes for criminals to be executed. Another effort to repeal the death penalty via ballot initiative just got underway.

Meanwhile, with no executions in sight and a few California counties, mostly in Southern California, continuing to condemn multiple prisoners each year, the state's Death Row is running out of room. About 750 inmates live on California's Death Row, roughly one-fourth of the nation's condemned prisoners.

While no execution has taken place in California since 2006, inmate deaths are becoming increasingly common, effectively turning many death sentences into life without parole.

Since the death penalty was reinstated in 1977, about 70 of the state's condemned inmates have died of natural causes.

Another 24 killed themselves. (In the last 10 years, the suicide rate on California's death row was 15 times higher than the statewide rate.)

About half a dozen condemned inmates died from other causes like drug overdoses and murder.

This chart shows, by year and cause, deaths on California's Death Row:

Click here to view graphic if using The Bee's mobile app.

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