Governor of Death
October 6, 2010 7:45 AM   Subscribe

Which U.S. governor has presided over the most executions?

I see that Rick Perry (TX) has presided over 224, I'm thinking it's the most in US history, but I'm not sure, esp. given that so many executions happened in 1940s and also in the late 1800s.
posted by philosophistry to Law & Government (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The Espy File has a pretty good list of historical executions in the US (1608-2002). Playing around with the data a little I didn't see any good challengers to Perry, but a more thorough analysis would turn up the definitive answer.

George W. Bush was frequently cited as the governor that had presided over the most executions in history, and Perry has outdone Bush's record, so it's probably safe to say that Perry has presided over the most overall.
posted by jedicus at 8:17 AM on October 6, 2010

If it's not Perry, then it's likely to be Governors Lehman or Dewey, of New York, back in the 1930s and 40s. New York kept their electric chair VERY busy back in those days.
posted by deadmessenger at 8:47 AM on October 6, 2010

Response by poster: Using that Espy File, New York executed 98 people during Dewey's years in office. For Lehman it's 152.
posted by philosophistry at 9:18 AM on October 6, 2010

The Death Penalty Info Center is a very reliable resource for U.S. death penalty information, although for executions prior to 1976 it refers to the Espy file for all but the aggregate information.

For execution information after 1976, you can search by state or details. For instance, Texas has had 463 executions since 1976 and had 755 prior to 1976; California has had 13 since 1976 and had 709 prior to 1976. George Bush was governor of Texas from 1995 to 1999, during which 112 men and 1 women were executed. While Rick Perry has been governor, 263 men and 1 woman have been executed (I don't know when the change between governors happened, so I used Dec 31, 1999 as the cut off between terms).

Prior to 1976, there were 1130 executions in New York, but none since, although there was an active death penalty statute from 1995 to 2004.
posted by crush-onastick at 10:55 AM on October 6, 2010

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