Executions in America fall to 25-year lowPosted: 2016-12-30
Executions dropped to a 25-year low this year, falling from 28 killed in 2015 to 20 this year. And that’s “down from a peak of ninety-eight, in 1999” reports the New Yorker:
Even more remarkable, just thirty people were sentenced to death this year, compared with three hundred and fifteen in 1996. Indeed, as the report further notes, “Fewer new death sentences were imposed in the past decade than in the decade preceding the Supreme Court’s invalidation of capital punishment in 1972.” The reduction in death sentences means that the decline in executions is likely to continue as well, because the pipeline of new cases is not as full.
The Wall Street Journal reports that only a few states put inmates to death this year:
Five states put to death inmates this year, with Texas and Georgia together accounting for 80% of executions in 2016. Not since 1983 have so few states carried out at least one death sentence. Since 2015, 85% of executions have taken place in three states: Texas, Georgia and Missouri.
What’s more, for the first time in forty years, not a single state sentenced ten or more people to death in 2016. A report by the Death Penalty Information Center notes that Texas almost cut their execution total in half, from thirteen in 2015 to seven this year. From The Wall Street Journal:
The decline in Texas … was mainly the result of Texas appeals judges granting more stays of executions due to prisoner claims related to faulty forensic science and prosecutorial misconduct and other issues. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has granted 15 stays since 2015, compared to the three it granted between 2012 and 2014.
“The rising number of stays suggests that the Court of Criminal Appeals is registering the concerns about the fairness and accuracy of our state’s capital punishment system,” Texas Defender Service executive director Kathryn Kase said in an earlier statement.“
The decline in death sentences is a trend that continues in public opinion as well. As we covered in September, less than half of America currently supports the death penalty, a 40-year low.