U.S. Death Sentences Drop to 30 Year Low

Death sentences dropped last year to the lowest number since the death penalty was reinstated by the Supreme Court 30 years ago.

Executions dropped to the lowest level in a decade.

"The death penalty is on the defensive," said Richard Dieter, director of the Death Penalty Information Center, a Washington organization that looks at problems with the capital punishment system.

Death sentences fell in 2006 to 114 or fewer, according to an estimate from the group. That is down from 128 in 2005, and even lower than the 137 sentences the year after the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976. It is also down sharply from the high of 317 in 1996.

A total of 53 executions were carried out in 2006, down from 60 in 2005. Executions over the past three decades peaked at 98 in 1999.

Fear of executing an innocent person, more state laws allowing life without parole as an option, decreases in violent crime and the high cost of prosecuting a death case are believed to be contributing factors.

We need one more factor to make a critical difference: moral opposition to the death penalty. We're not quite there:

A Gallup poll in May found that two-thirds of Americans 18 and older support the death penalty. But when asked which is the better penalty for murder, roughly half said life without parole and about half said the death penalty.

But here's a good statistic: 37 of the 38 states with a death penalty now allow life without parole as an option.

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    No morals? (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by HK on Fri Jan 05, 2007 at 08:42:47 AM EST
    I wonder if as a race we have lost sight of our morals and given way to our basic instincts.  I get tired of debating citing all the logical reasons to oppose the death penalty (costly, ineffective etc) against pro-capital punishment folk who think it is good enough simply to point at a convicted murderer and shout like a five-year-old, 'But he did it first!'

    If it is wrong to kill someone, it is wrong to kill someone.  We should not seek to act like murderers, regardless of what those convicted have done.  It really isn't very difficult to understand.

    Following Saddam Hussein's lynch-style demise last week, The Times of London had a headline which read, 'A merciless finale for dictator who showed no mercy.'  Yep.  Let's do it the way he did it.  Because he was such a great role model..right?

    off topic. (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by Bill Arnett on Fri Jan 05, 2007 at 12:29:49 PM EST
    No, paperhead (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by Edger on Fri Jan 05, 2007 at 12:54:05 PM EST
    It is not "on topic". It is your attempt to hijack the thread  and obfuscate the issue by changing the subject.

    It's also not working. Run back to HQ and tell them they need to send an "ept" troll. As opposed to an "inept" one.

    You want to discuss abortion? Wait for a thread about abortion. This thread is about the death penalty. You know, capital punishment for crimes? You've heard of it, I'm sure.


    So (5.00 / 2) (#8)
    by aw on Fri Jan 05, 2007 at 12:33:25 PM EST
    you'd be willing to exchange death row inmates' rights for womens' rights?  How generous.  I guess there just isn't enough in the rights budget to cover everyone.

    Lousy trade, Steinbrenner (5.00 / 2) (#9)
    by Dadler on Fri Jan 05, 2007 at 12:33:37 PM EST
    The number of women who would die or be severely injured in subsequent illegal abortions would far outnumber the inmates spared the needle or chair.  As would the number of neglected, unwanted, abused and abandoned children.  Forcing every pregnant woman to give birth, against their will, is simply not analogous to the state executing born and independently able adult human beings.  It's akin to forcing certain people to be sterilized against their will because we think they shouldn't reproduce or continue to.

    No trade (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by HK on Fri Jan 05, 2007 at 12:44:31 PM EST
    The number of women who would die or be severely injured in subsequent illegal abortions

    Good point, but don't forget the number of women who would die from life-threatening, pregnancy-related illnesses as a result of being forced to carry a baby to term despite any risks that may become apparent during gestation.

    Lousy trade?  Dadler, I'd say it was no trade at all.


    Yep (none / 0) (#26)
    by Dadler on Fri Jan 05, 2007 at 01:01:17 PM EST
    And a second yep.  Agreed.

    Off topic troll post (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by Edger on Fri Jan 05, 2007 at 12:58:41 PM EST
    An abortion is not someone else's problem (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by Dadler on Fri Jan 05, 2007 at 01:12:18 PM EST
    It is the problem of the pregnant woman.  Her business and no one else's.  Attack with sound logic, please.  You drive, use electricity, buy things in wasteful plastic packaging, buy products made with exploited labor far away and out of your sight, and on and on, you do plenty of irresponsible things that cause other people problems, I have no doubt, so your certainty of moral superiority is about as solid as cotton candy.  You have every right to your opinion, you can adopt all the unwanted children you want, but forcing pregnant women to give birth against their will is just not going to happen, nor should it.

    Now please, respond about your brood of adopted crack babies, your negative carbon footprint, your anti-plastic crusade, your organic gardening, your anti-war activities.

    You, you, you...conservative!!


    Go arrest some firefighters for arson... (none / 0) (#37)
    by Dadler on Fri Jan 05, 2007 at 04:29:41 PM EST
    ...when they set backfires to slow or stop a larger fire.  Arson is arson, right?  

    Scratch that independent adult line (none / 0) (#10)
    by Dadler on Fri Jan 05, 2007 at 12:35:48 PM EST
    We execute minors and the mentally retarded, too, wahoo, forgive my error.

    Please don't feed the troll (none / 0) (#32)
    by Al on Fri Jan 05, 2007 at 02:01:03 PM EST
    Thanx, Al! (none / 0) (#33)
    by Bill Arnett on Fri Jan 05, 2007 at 02:02:30 PM EST
    Texas now has life wo parole (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by xdethprosecutor on Fri Jan 05, 2007 at 10:33:48 AM EST
    Yes, there should be fewer death sentences in Texas now. The state recently enacted a life-without-parole sentencing option.

    Also, my personal sense is that more Texas prosecutors are taking the cost of pursuing a death sentence into account. Seeking the death penalty can literally break the budget of a rural county.

    Just as the rightwing religious nuts who... (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by Bill Arnett on Fri Jan 05, 2007 at 12:50:57 PM EST
    ...so piously object to a woman's right to choose, who desire eternal warfare in the Middle East in hopes of Armageddon, who are in some case so intolerant of gays they divide their churches, and who seek to further the "unitary executive" style of governing by [religious] fiat, there will arise other religious figures calling for a return to the civility being lost so quickly and the teachings of religious moderates, you know, like Jesus.

    These new people, at least new in the sense that their voices were drowned out before, will reach out to modern progressives to remind them that the taking of human life for having committed a crime does not truly comport with the desire to help build a more merciful, humanity-based community with the welfare of all at concern.

    Years past the death penalty didn't bother me, but when such a penalty is in the hands of small men like bush/cheney, who now order extra-judicial assassinations and deny even the semblance of a fair trial to those they would order killed or held forever, I have, after much careful thought, realized that the death penalty will never be fairly enforced by people so evil they desire eternal war and killing hundreds of thousands of people who committed no offense at all.

    "They" say, "Better that a thousand guilty men go free than to wrongly convict an innocent man."

    I would add: "Better no man be put to death than to risk killing even one innocent man."

    Aw (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by jondee on Fri Jan 05, 2007 at 12:51:14 PM EST
    They may've been completely powerless and vulerable, but deep down they all want to kill us.(sic)

    Really? (none / 0) (#2)
    by peacrevol on Fri Jan 05, 2007 at 08:56:26 AM EST
    Did Texas go on vacation? I must have missed the memo.

    Wesley Autrey (none / 0) (#4)
    by Che's Lounge on Fri Jan 05, 2007 at 11:44:27 AM EST
    American hero. Vietnam vet.

    What has he done for us lately? (none / 0) (#6)
    by jondee on Fri Jan 05, 2007 at 12:27:35 PM EST
    Paperhead - Add wars of aggression to the list and maybe I'll start to believe you.

    So (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by aw on Fri Jan 05, 2007 at 12:47:41 PM EST
    you don't mind killing pregnant Iraqi women, babies, and children, then?

    aw, jondee and fellow commenters, can we put... (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by Bill Arnett on Fri Jan 05, 2007 at 12:56:15 PM EST
    ...a voluntary moratorium on responding to thread hijackers and off-topic posts?

    I don't think it will stop until we TLers simply refuse to respond to these trolls and hijackers.


    Oh, awright (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by aw on Fri Jan 05, 2007 at 12:58:19 PM EST
    Hi, Bill.  Point taken.

    LOL at that "awright"! (none / 0) (#28)
    by Bill Arnett on Fri Jan 05, 2007 at 01:10:24 PM EST
    Actually... (none / 0) (#30)
    by Edger on Fri Jan 05, 2007 at 01:14:39 PM EST
    ...it means you lost. More than you appear to realize. No one now will respond to you unless you stay on topic and stop trolling.

    Then again, if you can do those two things, you'll win after all. But I doubt you can.


    Off topic troll post (5.00 / 1) (#25)
    by Edger on Fri Jan 05, 2007 at 12:59:29 PM EST
    Your saliva can cure cancer (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by Dadler on Fri Jan 05, 2007 at 01:23:33 PM EST
    Your sh*t smells like fresh lilac.  Your piss as crisp as a Napa chardonnay.  Every word you type is worth a thousand Korans.  Every breath you take a tiny monsoon.  You are God, killer of women who've had abortions, killer of innocent Iraqis we don't care enough about to count.

    As Joe Piscopo playing Frank Sinatra said to Sting playing Billy Idol: "I got chunks of guys like you in my stool!"

    Mazel.  Peace.  Amen.


    Go look up "satire" (5.00 / 1) (#38)
    by Dadler on Fri Jan 05, 2007 at 04:36:14 PM EST
    You talk of caring about innocents killed, but feel nothing for the fact your country cares so little for the innocent Iraqi people murdered in its fiasco of an illegal war that it can't even be bothered to count them or consider them.

    That is not an insult, junior, it's the reality of your lacking argument.  

    Alright, peeps, I'm done.  No more.  My apologies.


    Please don't feed the troll (5.00 / 1) (#34)
    by Al on Fri Jan 05, 2007 at 02:02:38 PM EST
    criminals being shunted into the military (none / 0) (#13)
    by smiley on Fri Jan 05, 2007 at 12:41:26 PM EST
    instead of a conviction, they're getting "community  (military) service" so they can go steal, rape, and murder in exotic places on the Federal payroll!  It's a win/win.  

    but- I just spent 10 minutes googling about this, and I can't find any relevant links, so possibly I'm just making it up becuase it's what I'd like to believe instead of actual truth.  I could have sworn I read something in the last 10 days or so about the armed forces lowering their barriers to entry to accept persons who had been arrested for violent crimes as a way for those persons to avoid prosecution.

    Here you go (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by aw on Fri Jan 05, 2007 at 12:56:24 PM EST