Size of Alabama’s death row population ensures long delays between sentencing and execution

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- Tommy Arthur was executed May 26, 34 years after Arthur was first sentenced to die for a 1982 murder for hire killing.

Looking at Alabama’s death row population, Arthur’s won’t be the last case with long delays between sentencing and execution

Alabama has 183 inmates currently on death row, according to the Alabama Department of Corrections.

That’s the fourth highest total in the country, according to the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington, D.C.

Alabama has the 25th largest U.S. population. While the death row and total population numbers don’t line up, Alabama ranks in the top 5 or 6 in the U.S. for annual murder rate, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and multiple other sources.

Texas has conducted the most executions, 521, in the U.S. since the Supreme Court lifted the death penalty ban in the mid-1970s, the Death Penalty Information Center reports. That’s almost 10 times the execution total for Alabama.

Texas has averaged 12 executions a year over the past five years, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

To put Alabama’s death row population in perspective, if Alabama followed the Texas model of an execution every month:

It would take Alabama just over 15 years to execute all of the inmates currently on death row.

Texas’ execution rate has also slowed since 2015, figures show. The state executed seven people last year and is set for eight executions in 2017.

Based on current figures, if Alabama performed 8 executions a year, it would take 23 years to kill every inmate currently on death row.

Over the past 5 years, Alabama has conducted four executions. The state has scheduled Robert Melson for execution on June 8. Melson has been on death row since 1996.

Currently 31 U.S. states have the death penalty on their books. 19 states don’t impose the death penalty.