NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Condemned Prisoners Opting To Die

February 1, 1999

Death row inmates are increasingly dropping their appeals and choosing execution, criminologists report.

  • Eleven of the 68 prisoners put to death last year said they wanted to die -- up from six the year before.
  • Six others who asked to die had executions postponed after lawyers filed last-minute appeals despite the inmates' objections.
  • More than half of the 63 who opted for execution rather than appeals since 1977 have died in the past four years.
  • Reasons for choosing death range from the length of the appeals process -- which can take 10 years or more -- to fear of a life sentence and a desire to atone for their sins.

Death penalty proponents say that unwelcome appeals stretch out the process, causing pain to victims' families and to the convicts.

Source: Richard Willing, "More on Death Row Seeking Execution," USA Today, February 1, 1999.


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