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Death sentences in 2015 fall from 2014’s historic low


This news story was published on January 5, 2016.
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(murderpedia.org photo)

(murderpedia.org photo)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A national death penalty watchdog agency reports that support and use of the death penalty in the United States is dropping and hitting historic lows.

According to a report from the Death Penalty Information Center:

By all measures, use of and support for the death penalty continued its steady decline in the United States in 2015. The number of new death sentences imposed in the U.S. fell sharply from already historic lows, executions dropped to their lowest levels in 24 years, and public opinion polls revealed that a majority of Americans preferred life without parole to the death penalty. Opposition to capital punishment polled higher than any time since 1972.

The numbers also pointed to the increasing geographic isolation of the death penalty and its disproportionate overuse by a handful of jurisdictions. Fewer states and counties imposed death sentences, and 93% of executions were concentrated in just 4 states. 16% of all the new death sentences imposed in the country came from a single California county and — while nearly every state requires juries to unanimously agree to a death sentence — more than a quarter of the nation’s new death sentences were imposed by judges in two states after juries did not unanimously agree on death. Nearly two-thirds of the new death sentences in the U.S. in 2015 were imposed in the same 2% of American counties that have disproportionately accounted for more than half of all U.S. death sentences in the past.

The national trend towards abolition of the death penalty in law or practice continued:

Nebraska legislatively abolished the death penalty; the Connecticut Supreme Court declared its death penalty unconstitutional; and Pennsylvania joined three other states in imposing gubernatorial moratoria on executions. For the first time in a generation, there were fewer than 3,000 men and women on death rows nationwide. Six more men and women were exonerated from death row. And as two Justices of the Supreme Court issued an historic opinion inviting systemic constitutional challenges to the death penalty in America, numerous additional states put executions on hold because of problems in obtaining execution drugs or in administering their execution protocols.

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