Policy: Law

Report: Texas, Florida account for 59 percent of US executions

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Crime,Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets,Florida,Texas,Law

A new report on the death penalty found that the number of executions in 2013 dropped 10 percent, to 39, but they increased slightly in Texas and Florida, two states that accounted for 59 percent of the nation's total.

The Death Penalty Information Center said in its annual report that support for executions also dropped to a 40-year low. However, there were 80 death sentences leveled in 2013, a slight increase over 2012.

“Twenty years ago, use of the death penalty was increasing. Now it is declining by almost every measure,” said Richard Dieter, DPIC’s executive director and the author of the report. “The recurrent problems of the death penalty have made its application rare, isolated, and often delayed for decades. More states will likely reconsider the wisdom of retaining this expensive and ineffectual practice.”

From his report:

— Death sentences. The number of new death sentences was near its lowest level since the death penalty was reinstated in the 1970s. With less than two weeks remaining in 2013, there have been 80 new death sentences, three more than in 2012, and far fewer than in 1996, when there were 315. The number of death sentences in 2013 represents a 75% decline from the peak of the mid-1990s. Florida (15) and California (24) provided almost half of the death sentences this year. Many prominent death penalty states in the south, including South Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, and Louisiana, had no death sentences. For the sixth year in a row, Texas (9) had fewer than 10 death sentences, a stark difference from 1999, when it recorded 48. Other leading states with death sentences in 2013 were Alabama (5), Ohio (4), Pennsylvania (4), Arizona (3), Indiana (3), and Missouri (3). Fifteen states imposed at least 1 death sentence in 2013, compared to 18 in 2012.

— Death row. The number of people on death row continued to decline. As of April 1, 2013, there were 3,108 inmates on death rows across the country, compared to 3,170 at the same time last year. The total population on death row has decreased every year since 2001. In 2000, 3,670 inmates were under sentence of death.

Paul Bedard, The Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com.
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