What is the chance that a person given a death sentence actually being executed? Based on a review of every U.S. death sentence since 1973, the most likely outcome isn't being executed or even remaining on death row as an appeal makes its way through the courts. The most common circumstance is that the death sentence will be overturned, write Frank Baumgartner and Anna Dietrich of the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill in the Washington Post.
From 1973 to 2013, 8,466 sentences of death were handed down by U.S. courts, and 1,359 individuals were executed, only 16 percent. Excluding those who remained on death row as of 2013, only 24 percent of condemned inmates have been executed. Those sentenced to death are almost three times as likely to see their death sentence overturned on appeal and to be resentenced to a lesser penalty than they are to be executed. Execution is the third most likely outcome after a death sentence. Much more likely is the inmate to have the sentence reversed, or to remain for decades on death row.