Why does Arizona have one of the largest death row inmate populations?

Posted at 6:08 PM, Aug 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-17 21:08:48-04

Our partners at PolitiFact found that California has the largest death row in the Western Hemisphere. But where does Arizona rank -- and why? 

Arizona trails California, Florida and Texas, but is among the top 10 in states with death penalties for the size of its death row inmate population. 

By the numbers

Arizona Department of Corrections spokesman Andrew Wilder points out that the state's death penalty has had several pauses. The law was inactive from March 1963 to April 1992 -- and again from November 2000 to May 2007.

The state's last execution took place in July 2014, but executions have remained on hold because of a lawsuit involving the use of execution drugs

"Nothing is imminent in Arizona in terms of executions resuming," Wilder said. "That case needs to get resolved." 

Arizona currently has 120 inmates on death row, two more than in 2014. 

See the full numbers below:


Slower executions

Since 2007, Arizona has had 15 executions -- with a high of six in 2012. But that pales in comparison to other states, which execute inmates faster. And that may be one reason behind Arizona's high number.

"Texas is pretty swift, they convict more on state capital charges," Wilder said.

And besides challenges to Arizona's death penalty, inmates usually have multiple chances to appeal. PolitiFact notes that in California, attorneys are able to "delay justice" by filing frivolous appeals. 

What's next? 

Executions remain on hold because of the execution drug lawsuit.