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Dr. Drew

Driven by current events, "Dr. Drew" on HLN focuses on the human - and human behavior - at the center of the story.

Which states have the most people on death row?

  • Most states use capital punishment
  • Challenges to the death penalty becoming more frequent
  • Studies: Death penalty more expensive than life without parole
Which states have the most people on death row?

Will it be life in prison or death for Jodi Arias? On Monday, she'll be back in court and one step closer to finding out. Stay with HLN for complete coverage of her hearing.

With all the events surrounding the Jodi Arias trial over the past several months, discussion over the death penalty has become front and center.

In May, the jury convicted Arias of first-degree murder in the brutal slaying of her ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander, noting that the murder was “proven” to be committed in an especially cruel manner, which was an aggravating factor that made Arias eligible for the death penalty.

However, when it came to the sentencing phase, jurors could not reach a unanimous decision about whether the 32-year-old should live or die.

The death penalty is defined as “the sentence of execution for murder and some other capital crimes (serious crimes, especially murder, which are punishable by death),” according to

Most states provide for capital punishment (32 states), and those states generally have an age requirement. But as our country has evolved, challenges to the death penalty have become more frequent, based upon factors such as an individual’s mental capacity to understand their actions, DNA advancements and the high costs involved with capital cases.

Studies have found that the death penalty is much more expensive than the sentence of life without parole, considering the attorneys who handle these cases, DNA tests, security and other expenses related to incarceration.

For example, the Los Angeles Times reported a study out of Loyola Law School stating that taxpayers in California have spent more than $4 billion on capital punishment since its reinstatement in 1976. (Capital punishment was suspended for a short period in the U.S. from 1972 to 1976 -- but then restored by the Supreme Court).  The study forecasts that death penalty costs will climb to $9 billion by 2030.

So the issue that remains hotly debated: Is the death penalty the only form of true justice in capital cases?

Since 1976, 1,264 people have been executed in America. As noted in the graphic above, California has more death row inmates than any other state, currently listed at 727. The total number of death row inmates in the U.S. as of January 1, 2013: 3,125.

U.S. death row inmates by state as of Jan. 1, 2013
New Hampshire 1
Wyoming 1
New Mexico 2
Montana 2
South Dakota 3
Nebraska 11
Colorado 4
Maryland 5
Washington 8
Utah 9
Kansas 10
Connecticut 11
Virginia 11
Indiana 12
Idaho 13
Delaware 18
Kentucky 34
Oregon 37
Arkansas 38
Missouri 48
Mississippi 48
South Carolina 53
Oklahoma 60
Nevada 79
Tennessee 87
Louisiana 88
Georgia 97
Arizona 127
Ohio 147
North Carolina 161
Alabama 198
Pennsylvania 202
Texas 300
Florida 413
California 727
*U.S. Military 5
*U.S. Government 61

Organizations will argue that punishment by death is simply excessive in a civil society, calling for its abolishment, while other groups contend that "an eye for an eye" approach or retribution honors the victim helping families cope with their loss.

Lethal injection has become the most common method of execution. But other forms have included death by electrocution, gas chamber, firing squad and hanging (the last execution by hanging happened in 1939).

The United Nations Human Rights Commission passed the Resolution Supporting Worldwide Moratorium On Executions in April, 1999. UsLegal noted, “The resolution calls on countries which have not abolished the death penalty to restrict its use of the death penalty, including not imposing it on juvenile offenders and limiting the number of offenses for which it can be imposed.” The United States and 10 other countries voted against the resolution.

What's your position? Let us know in the comment section below.

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