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Death row is a term that refers to the section of a prison that houses individuals awaiting execution. It is also used to refer to the state of awaiting execution, even in places where a special section of a prison does not exist ("being on death row").

After individuals are found guilty of an offense and sentenced to execution, they will remain on death row while following an appeals procedure, if they so choose, and then until there is a convenient time for execution. Due to the lengthy, expensive and time-consuming appeals procedure that must be followed in the United States before an execution can be carried out, prisoners may wait years before execution; nearly a quarter of deaths on death row in the U.S. are in fact of natural causes.[1]

In Great Britain, the convicted were given one appeal of their sentence. If that appeal was found to involve an important point of law it was taken up to the House of Lords and at that point the sentence was changed to life in prison. [2] In some Caribbean countries which still authorize execution, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council is the ultimate court of appeal. It has upheld appeals by prisoners who have spent several years under sentence of death, stating that it does not desire to see the death row phenomenon emerge in countries under its jurisdiction.

Haiti continued[citation needed] the conventional 'reprieved if not executed within 90 days' process adopted by Great Britain before its abolition (Haiti later abolished the death penalty in 1987)[3].

Opponents of capital punishment claim that a prisoner's isolation and uncertainty over his fate constitute a form of mental cruelty and that especially long-time death row inmates are liable to become mentally ill, if they are not already. This is referred to as the death row phenomenon.

As of 2008, there were 3,263 prisoners awaiting execution in the United States.[4] Also as of 2008, the longest-serving prisoner on death row in the U.S.A. who has been executed was Jack Alderman who served over 33 years. He was executed in 2008.[5] However, Alderman only holds the distinction of being the longest-serving executed inmate so far. A Florida inmate, Gary Alvord, arrived on Florida's death row before Alderman arrived on Georgia's death row and, on 9 April 2009, Alvord had been on death row for exactly 35 years[6], longer than any other United States death row inmate. The oldest prisoner on death row in the United States was Leroy Nash, age 94, in Arizona. He died of natural causes on February 12, 2010.


Death row locations in the United States

Men death row Women death row Execution chamber
Federal Terre Haute, Indiana (Federal Correctional Complex, Terre Haute) Terre Haute, Indiana (Federal Correctional Complex, Terre Haute) Terre Haute, Indiana (Federal Correctional Complex, Terre Haute)
Military Fort Leavenworth, Kansas (United States Disciplinary Barracks) San Diego, California (Naval Consolidated Brig, Miramar-Marine Corps Air Station Miramar)1 Terre Haute, Indiana (Federal Correctional Complex, Terre Haute)
State Men death row Women death row Execution chamber
Alabama Atmore (Holman Correctional Facility) Wetumpka (Julia Tutwiler Correctional Center for Women) Atmore (Holman Correctional Facility)
Arizona Arizona State Prison Complex - Florence Arizona State Prison Complex - Perryville Arizona State Prison Complex - Florence
Arkansas Grady (Varner Unit) Newport (McPherson Unit) Grady (Cummins Unit)
California San Quentin (San Quentin State Prison) Chowchilla (Valley State Prison for Women) San Quentin (San Quentin State Prison)
Colorado Canon City (Colorado State Penitentiary) Canon City (Colorado Women's Correctional Facility) Canon City (Colorado State Penitentiary)
Connecticut Somers (Northern Correctional Institution) Niantic (York Correctional Institution) Somers (Osborn Correctional Institution)
Delaware Smyrna (Delaware Correctional Center) New Castle (Delaware State Women's Prison) Smyrna (Delaware Correctional Center)
Florida Raiford (Union Correctional Institution) and Starke (Florida State Prison) Lowell (Lowell Correctional Institution) Starke (Florida State Prison)
Georgia Jackson Atlanta Jackson (Georgia Diagnostic and Classification State Prison)
Idaho Boise (Idaho Maximum Security Institution) Pocatello (Pocatello Womens Correctional Center) Boise (Idaho Maximum Security Institution)
Illinois Pontiac Correctional Center Dwight Tamms Correctional Center
Indiana Michigan City (Indiana State Prison) Indianapolis (Indiana Women's Prison) Michigan City (Indiana State Prison)
Kansas El Dorado (El Dorado Correctional Facility) Topeka (Topeka Correctional Facility) Lansing (Lansing Correctional Facility)
Kentucky Eddyville (Kentucky State Penitentiary) Pewee Valley (Kentucky Correctional Institute for Women) Eddyville (Kentucky State Penitentiary)
Louisiana Angola (Louisiana State Penitentiary) St Gabriel (Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women) Angola (Louisiana State Penitentiary)
Maryland Baltimore (Maryland Correctional Adjustment Center) Jessup (Maryland Correctional Institution - Women) Baltimore (Metropolitan Transition Center)
Mississippi Parchman (Mississippi State Penitentiary) Pearl Parchman (Mississippi State Penitentiary)
Missouri Bonne Terre (Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center) Fulton Bonne Terre (Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center)
Montana Deer Lodge (Montana State Prison) Billings (Montana Women's Prison) Deer Lodge (Montana State Prison)
Nebraska Tecumseh (Tecumseh State Correctional Institution) York (Nebraska Correctional Center for Women) Lincoln (Nebraska State Penitentiary)
Nevada Ely (Ely State Prison) Carson City Carson City (Nevada State Prison)
New Hampshire Concord Goffstown (New Hampshire State Prison for Women) 4
New Mexico Santa Fé (Penitentiary of New Mexico) Grants (New Mexico Women's Correctional Facility) Santa Fé (Penitentiary of New Mexico)
New York2 Dannemora (Clinton Correctional Facility) Bedford Hills (Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for Women) Beekman (Green Haven Correctional Facility)3
North Carolina Raleigh (Central Prison) Raleigh (North Carolina Correctional Institution for Women) Raleigh (Central Prison)
Ohio Youngstown (Ohio State Penitentiary) Marysville (Ohio Reformatory for Women) Lucasville (Southern Ohio Correctional Facility)
Oklahoma McAlester (Oklahoma State Penitentiary) Oklahoma City (Mabel Bassett Correctional Center) McAlester (Oklahoma State Penitentiary)
Oregon Salem (Oregon State Penitentiary) Wilsonville (Coffee Creek Correctional Facility) Salem (Oregon State Penitentiary)
Pennsylvania Both State Correctional Institution - Greene and Graterford Muncy (State Correctional Institution) State Correctional Institution - Rockview
South Carolina Ridgeville (Lieber Correctional Institution) Columbia Columbia (Broad River Correctional Institution)
South Dakota Sioux Falls (South Dakota State Penitentiary) Pierre (South Dakota Women's Prison) Sioux Falls (South Dakota State Penitentiary)
Tennessee [2] Nashville (Riverbend Maximum Security Institution) Nashville (Tennessee Prison for Women) Nashville (Riverbend Maximum Security Institution)
Texas Livingston (Polunsky Unit) Gatesville (Mountain View Unit) Huntsville (Huntsville Unit)
Utah Draper (Utah State Prison) Gunnison (Central Utah Correctional Facility) Draper (Utah State Prison)
Virginia Waverly (Sussex I State Prison) (Fluvanna Correctional Center) Greensville Correctional Center
Washington Walla Walla (Washington State Penitentiary) Gig Harbor (Washington Corrections Center for Women) Walla Walla (Washington State Penitentiary)
Wyoming Rawlins (Wyoming State Penitentiary) Lusk (Wyoming Women's Center) Rawlins (Wyoming State Penitentiary)5

Notes: 1Naval Consolidated Brig, Miramar is the only facility in the United States Department of Defense designated to house female Level III inmates.
2Last death sentence reversed on 2007.
3Closed in 2008 under David Paterson administration [3].
4No clarified site for execution.
5If an execution does occur, the state will use its parole board meeting room at the state prison.

Death row in Japan

Japanese death row inmates are imprisoned inside the detention centers of Kagoshima, Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka, Hiroshima and Fukuoka (Takamatsu is the 8th city having High Court, but for unexplained reasons the Takamatsu Detention Center is not equipped with execution chamber so executions administered by the Takamatsu High Court are carried out in the Osaka detention center). Because they are awaiting execution, those on death row are not classified as prisoners by the Japanese justice system and the facilities they are held at are not referred to as prisons. Inmates lack many of the rights afforded to other Japanese prisoners. The nature of the regime they live under is largely up to the director of the Detention Centre, but it is usually significantly harsher than normal Japanese prisons. Inmates are held under solitary confinement and are forbidden communication with their fellows. They are permitted two periods of exercise a week – reportedly, inmates are not permitted to do even limited exercise within their own cell. They are not allowed televisions and may only possess three books. Prison visits, both by family members and legal representatives, are infrequent and closely supervised.[citation needed]


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