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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Criminal Justice Quote: U.S. Death Sentences and Executions at Historic Lows

     The number of executions in the United States hit a 20-year low in 2014, a dip driven in part by lethal-injection drug shortages and legal battles stemming from botched procedures. Thirty-five death-row inmates in seven states were killed last year, the lowest number since 1994…Executions peaked in 1999; there were 98 that year…

     Death sentences hit a 40-year low last year and have been in steep decline for the last two decades, plunging from 315 in 1994 to 72 in 2014. According to Richard Dieter, the executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, "The realization that mistakes have been made, that innocent people are still being freed, has made juries hesitant. They are willing to convict but not sentence to death. There is a demand for perfect proof, and so prosecutors are taking more plea bargains."

     Seven death-row inmates were exonerated last year, the most since 2009.

     A majority of Americans still support capital punishment. In a May 2014 poll by NBC News, 59 percent said they favor the death penalty as the ultimate punishment for murder, while 35 percent said they are opposed. That reflects the erosion of support since the 1990s, when more than 70 percent backed executions.

"Number of Death Sentences and Executions at 20-Year Low," Associated Press, December 17, 2014

     

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