Executions in the United States, 1608-2002: The ESPY File (ICPSR 8451)

Version Date: Jul 20, 2016 View help for published

Principal Investigator(s): View help for Principal Investigator(s)
M. Watt Espy, Headland, Alabama; John Ortiz Smykla, University of South Alabama. Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice


Version V5

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This collection furnishes data on executions performed under civil authority in the United States between 1608 and 2002. The dataset describes each individual executed and the circumstances surrounding the crime for which the person was convicted. Variables include age, race, name, sex, and occupation of the offender, place, jurisdiction, date, and method of execution, and the crime for which the offender was executed. Also recorded are data on whether the only evidence for the execution was official records indicating that an individual (executioner or slave owner) was compensated for an execution.

Espy, M. Watt, and Smykla, John Ortiz. Executions in the United States, 1608-2002:  The ESPY File . Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2016-07-20. https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR08451.v5

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National Science Foundation (SES 84-09725), United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. Bureau of Justice Statistics
Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research

1608 -- 2002
1970 -- 2002

Executions that occurred under civil authority in the United States or within territory that later became the United States.

State Department of Corrections records, newspapers, county histories, proceedings of state and local courts, holdings of historical societies, and other listings of executions



2018-02-15 The citation of this study may have changed due to the new version control system that has been implemented. The previous citation was:
  • Espy, M. Watt, and John Ortiz Smykla. Executions in the United States, 1608-2002: The ESPY File . ICPSR08451-v5. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2016-07-20. http://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR08451.v5

2016-07-20 Corrections were made to two records. Case number 40001 was dropped, as government records show that she was pardoned. For case number 50367, the method of execution was changed from hanging to electrocution.

2005-11-04 On 2005-03-14 new files were added to one or more datasets. These files included additional setup files as well as one or more of the following: SAS program, SAS transport, SPSS portable, and Stata system files. The metadata record was revised 2005-11-04 to reflect these additions.

2004-02-27 Data from the years 1992 through 2002 have been added to the data file. The SPSS and SAS data definition statements have been updated accordingly and Part 2 of this study, old SAS data definition statements will be removed, leaving all files in only one part. The ASCII codebook has also been updated and converted to a PDF file.

1988-01-06 ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Performed consistency checks.
  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.


  • The public-use data files in this collection are available for access by the general public. Access does not require affiliation with an ICPSR member institution.

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This dataset is maintained and distributed by the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data (NACJD), the criminal justice archive within ICPSR. NACJD is primarily sponsored by three agencies within the U.S. Department of Justice: the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.