Fairfax and Prince William counties are among the 62 jurisdictions that have prosecuted the most criminals executed in the United States since the reinstatement of capital punishment, according to a study released Tuesday, and Virginia taxpayers have paid a substantial portion of the $25 billion spent on death sentences.
The report from the Death Penalty Information Center found that the two counties were among the 2 percent of counties in the United States that were responsible for a majority of the 1,320 executions from 1976 to 2012.
The U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976.
Fairfax County had five death-row inmates who were executed and Prince William had nine.
The report showed that geography, rather than the nature of a crime, was the biggest factor in who was executed and who was not.
"There's an arbitrariness to the death penalty," Richard Dieter, the Death Penalty Information Center's executive director, told The Washington Post. "Most of the counties in Virginia have never had an execution in this modern era."
Among those executed in Prince William County: John Allen Muhammad, part of the sniper team that shot 10 people in the Washington area in 2002. He was executed in 2009.
The study cited the cost of each death sentence at $3 million and the cost of each execution at more than $20 million.
With more than 8,300 death sentences in the United State since 1976, the total cost of the cases was about $25 billion, the study found, adding that the costs are not limited to the counties involved but hit state and federal budgets.