Report: Death Sentences At Lowest Level In Decades

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The world watched, transfixed, as Georgia man Troy Davis headed for execution by lethal injection in September, with many calling the execution unjust. A Republican debate audience that same month cheered loudly as Texas Gov. Rick Perry defended his state’s record of executing more death row inmates than any other governor in modern times. But death penalty opponents might breathe a sigh of relief today.The number of new death sentences in 2011 fell below 100 for the first time in more than three decades, according to a report by the Death Penalty Information Center, a non-profit organization focusing on spreading information about capital punishment. In 2011, 78 inmates were sentenced to death, compared to 112 in 2010 and 224 in 2000.

While death sentences in Texas have declined steadily, the state executed 13 people in 2011, more than any other state, according to the report.

In the report’s conclusion, the center notes the shift in public perception of executions:

In 2011, the use of the death penalty continued to decline. Executions, new death sentences, public support, and the number of states with the death penalty dropped from previous years. Even when executions did occur, as with the execution of Troy Davis in Georgia, or with Mexican citizen Humberto Leal in Texas, they often were marked by controversy and dissents at the highest levels. In several egregious cases, international leaders pleaded for stays or commutation.

“The multitude of problems associated with the death penalty is gradually convincing Americans that it can no longer be sustained,” the report concludes.

Read the full report below:

Death Penalty 2011

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Taintor is a news editor at Talking Points Memo. Previously, he worked at NBC News and Adweek. He's a native of Minnesota. Reach him at taintor@talkingpointsmemo.com.
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