Report: U.S. Death Sentences Decline in 2011

The Death Penalty Information Center has released its year-end report. In 2011, less than 100 fewer death sentences were imposed, the lowest number since capital punishment was reinstated in 1976.

The number of new death sentences imposed in 2011 stands at 78, a decline of about 75% since 1996, when 315 inmates were sentenced to death. This is the lowest number of death sentences in any year since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976. Texas, which had 48 new death sentences in 1999, had only 8 this year.

The number of U.S. executions also declined. "There were 43 executions in 13 states, a 56% decline since 1999, when there were 98."

34 states still authorize the death penalty. According to the 2011 Gallup Poll, only 61% of Americans now support the death penalty, compared to 80% in 1994.

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    Note to the NPR reporter talking about (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by ruffian on Thu Dec 15, 2011 at 10:43:43 AM EST
    the report this morning: the fact that the audience at a GOP debate cheers the death penalty is not an indication that the 61% number is wrong - it is an indication that the audience for a GOP debate is out of step with the general public. But thanks for not mentioning it just yet. Wait for the general election time period.

    It's a start, (5.00 / 2) (#2)
    by Zorba on Thu Dec 15, 2011 at 11:04:22 AM EST
    I guess.  Not enough, but a start.  I won't be satisfied until the death penalty is totally banned in all states.

    It's complicated! (none / 0) (#3)
    by Gerald USN Ret on Thu Dec 15, 2011 at 03:54:25 PM EST

    Personally I have no problem with the idea of the death penalty.
    The problem is that it is used politically by prosecutors in cases where there is a lack of certainty.  This is why too many sentences have been tossed out.  Yes one (1) would be scary, but there are a lot more than one which indicates that there is a bad problem.
    The above is why I generally no longer support the death penalty.  But that is just me.

    The thing that is really affecting the number of death penalty cases is the atrocious cost.  I read that one judge said that the state/county had to provide $1,000,000 just for the defense in one case or the penalty would automatically be tossed out.  Then add the costs of 14 years of appeals, etc., again paid for by the state and it must run into the millions of dollars for each case.

    All this so a prosecutor can be reelected or run for a higher office on a "tough on crime" platform.

    Hey it is a lot cheaper to put the miscreants away for a real life sentence and then if their case is ever overturned, they aren't dead, "already."