Bonneville Phoenix Network
 KTAR News
 Arizona Sports
92.3 FM KTAR

Executions in US drop close to 20-year low in 2013

WASHINGTON — Reliance on the death penalty continues to decline with 39
people executed this year, only the second time in 19 years that fewer than 40
people were put to death, a private group reported Thursday.

The Death Penalty Information Center, a nonprofit organization that opposes
executions and tracks the issue, also said the number of new death sentences was
near its lowest level since capital punishment was reinstated in the 1970s.
There have been 80 new death sentences so far this year, three more than in 2012
and down from 315 in 1996, the group said.

The 39 executions were carried out in nine states. Texas had the most, 16,
followed by Florida, which had seven. Oklahoma had six, Ohio three, Arizona and
Missouri two each, and Alabama, Georgia and Virginia, one each.

Texas, the leader in executions, illustrates the downward trend. It recorded 48
death sentences in 1999. This year, it was nine, marking the sixth year in a row
that Texas had less than 10 death sentences.

Maryland abolished the death penalty this year, the 18th state to do so and the
sixth in the last six years.

“I think the decline begins with the revelations about mistakes in capital
cases _ that innocent people could get the penalty and almost be executed has
shocked the public to the point where death sentences are harder to obtain,”
said Richard Dieter, executive director of the center.

“There’s a healthy skepticism about imposing a death sentence knowing that new
information is almost certain to arise 10 or more years later,” Dieter added.
“Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty less, juries are imposing it less
and ultimately executions are occurring less frequently.”

One explanation for the relatively low level of executions is that many drugs
used in lethal injections are manufactured in Europe, where some governments
opposing capital punishment have banned exporting drugs for executions.

Leading up to Maryland’s decision to abolish capital punishment was the
discovery that authorities had convicted and sentenced to death the wrong man in
the assault and murder of a 9-year-old girl in Baltimore County. DNA testing not
only excluded Kirk Bloodsworth as the killer, but identified the actual
perpetrator who is now in prison. Bloodsworth was with the Maryland governor
when the measure abolishing the state’s death penalty was signed into law.
Bloodsworth was the first man exonerated from death row by DNA evidence.

In April of this year, the number of people on death row declined to 3,108
inmates, compared to 3,170 at the same time last year. The death row population
has decreased each year since 2001. In 2000, 3,670 inmates were awaiting


comments powered by Disqus