BBC News Magazine: “Why is one county handing down one in six US death sentences?”
Judged by the number of death sentences handed down, Riverside [County, California] has ranked no lower than third among the US’s more than 3,000 counties since 2012, and was first in 2015.
“The county is the most glaring example of a phenomenon that is being seen across the US, which is that even though the death penalty is in broad decline across most of America, there are individual pockets that continue to disproportionately use it,” says Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center.
He cites a 2013 report done by the centre which found that the majority of people on death row in the US were sentenced to death by fewer than 2% of the counties.
California had 746 people on death row in January 2015, far ahead of the state in second place – Florida, with 400.
Seems hard to square this with the Constitutional prohibition on “cruel and unusual punishment.”