The time prisoners spend on death row has nearly doubled during the past two decades. Waits rose from seven years in 1986 to 12 years in 2006, the latest Justice Department statistics show.In California, wait times average nearly 20 years.
The three offenders executed in Alabama in 2007 spent an average of 23 years on death row.
he wait times amount to prisoners getting "two distinct punishments": the death sentence and years in solitary confinement, says Richard Dieter of the Death Penalty Information Center, which opposes the death penalty. "Death row was only supposed to be temporary," Denno says. "Now we have inmates on death row for more than a quarter-century."