U.S. death sentences are in a deep decline, hitting a 25-year low as public support for executions falls.
Twenty prisoners were executed in 2016, none of them federal. Georgia (9) and Texas (7) had most of the executions, with Alabama having two and Missouri and Florida had one each. Last year, 28 executions were carried out, which had been the lowest until then.
Fewer death sentences were imposed this year as well, only 29 as opposed to last year’s 49, The New York Times reported. Twenty years ago in 1996, 315 capital sentences were laid down, so the numbers are dropping rapidly.
California imposed the most death sentences in 2016, but hasn’t actually executed any of the 750 prisoners on death row in more than 10 years, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Anywhere from 49 percent (Pew Research Center) to 60 percent of Americans (Gallup) support the death penalty, but the number that oppose it is growing — it’s about 40 percent in the most recent Pew number.
“Whether it’s concerns about innocence, costs and discrimination, availability of life without parole as a safe alternative, or the questionable way in which states are attempting to carry out executions, the public grows increasingly uncomfortable with the death penalty each year,” said Robert Dunham of the Death Penalty Information Center, the LA Times reported.
California voters recently voted down a ballot measure to get rid of the death penalty there and approved one that would limit appeals and push executions through faster.
There are currently 2,905 inmates on death row in the U.S., a number that is also dropping, according to the NY Times.
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