Death Penalty Is Going Out of Style, New Report Says
A new report from the Death Penalty Information Center says that for the first time since capital punishment was reinstated in 1976, less than 100 executions took place in the U.S.
There have been 78 death sentences this year, down from last year's 112.
"This year, the use of the death penalty continued to decline by almost every measure. Executions, death sentences, public support, the number of states with the death penalty all dropped from previous years," said DPIC's executive director Richard Dieter. "Whether it's concerns about unfairness, executing the innocent, the high costs of the death penalty, or the general feeling that the government just can't get it right, Americans moved further away from capital punishment in 2011."
Don't worry, Texans: Your state is still the clear leader in executions. With 13 in 2011, Texas had more than the next two states (Alabama and Ohio) combined. California and Florida have far more current Death Row inmates, but that's partly because they never get around to killing them.
At least four states that have the death penalty had no such sentences this year: Maryland, South Carolina, Missouri and Indiana.
The PDIC also said public sentiment against the death penalty is growing:
Also this year, the Gallup Poll, which measures the public's support for the death penalty, but without offering alternatives, recorded the lowest level of support and the highest level of opposition in almost 40 years. Only 61 percent supported the death penalty, compared to 80 percent in 1994. Thirty-five percent were opposed, compared to 16 percent in 1994. A more in-depth CNN poll gave respondents a choice between the death penalty and life without parole for those who commit murder. Fifty percent chose a life sentence, while 48 percent chose death.