At 12:31 a.m. Wednesday morning, Earl Ringo Jr. died.

Ringo’s death penalty execution was the eighth in Missouri and the 28th nationally this year, according to records maintained by the Death Penalty Information Center. His crime, committed with an accomplice, was the double-murder of Ruby Tuesday employees Dennis Poyser and JoAnna Baysinger on July 4, 1998.

Ringo’s execution comes during a dynamic year for the death penalty. In February, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) announced he was suspending the death penalty over concerns that it was unfairly applied. In April, a repeal in New Hampshire failed by a single vote and a botched lethal injection in Oklahoma reignited the debate over ending the punishment. In July, a federal judge ruled California’s death penalty unconstitutional and, nationally, support remains high, but continues a slow decline.

We’ve written a lot about execution, but found the chart below by Alex Pudlin particularly efficient in conveying the variety of statistics related to its implementation in recent decades. Since 1976, white defendants have been executed more than any other racial or ethnic group. Texas has executed five times more individuals than second-ranked Oklahoma and, nationwide, death penalty executions peaked in 1999.

Thanks to Pudlin, who works in urban planning and creates charts as a hobby, for creating this chart and allowing us to republish it. The chart does not include Ringo’s execution.

(Update, 7:33 a.m., Sept. 11: FE stands for federal executions.)


Death penalty statistics from 1976 through August 2014. (Alex Pudlin)