The Death Penalty Information Center has released its annual report, The Death Penalty in 2012: Year End Report. A news release and additional information is also available at the DPIC website. It's received extensive press coverage.
The AP report is, "Report: Few states have bulk of executions," by Mark Sherman, via the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Just four states carried out more than three-fourths of the executions in the United States this year, while another 23 states have not put an inmate to death in 10 years, an anti-capital punishment group reports.
The Death Penalty Information Center says in its annual report that Texas led the nation, as it does every year, with 15 executions. Arizona, Mississippi and Oklahoma had 6 each. Together, the four states accounted for 33 of the 43 executions in the United States in 2012.
The report also says that a handful of states were responsible for nearly two-thirds of death sentences imposed in 2012.
Both executions and new death sentences are far below their peaks since executions resumed in 1977 following a halt imposed by the Supreme Court. Texas' 492 executions since 1977 are the most, by far. No more executions are scheduled before the end of the year, the group says.
"By every count, the death penalty is declining and becoming less relevant. It's not turned to even in states that have been strong proponents of the death penalty. I'd even include Texas, which is sentencing many fewer people to death," said Richard Dieter, the center's executive director and author of the report.
Dieter singled out Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia, none of which carried out an execution this year. And among those states, the only new death sentences were two in Georgia and one in Louisiana.
"Fewest states in 20 years executed inmates in 2012: report," by Corrie MacLaggan at Reuters.
Nine states executed inmates in 2012, the fewest number in 20 years, as several Southern states that usually carry out executions did not put any inmates to death, according to a report released Tuesday by a nonprofit that tracks death penalty data.
"There are still 33 states with the death penalty, but very few are actually regularly carrying out executions," said Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center and author of the report.
Forty-three inmates were executed this year, the same number as 2011, according to the report by the Washington, D.C.-based organization. Last year, 13 states executed inmates. No more executions are scheduled for this year.
"Report: 2012 executions ties 2011 total," is the UPI coverage.
The 43 executions in 2012 was 56 percent less than the peak in 1999 and equaled last year's total, the report, released Tuesday, said.
Twenty-nine states either have no death penalty or have not carried out an execution in five years, the report said.
The number of new death sentences in 2012 was the second lowest since the death penalty was reinstated by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1976, the center said. Seventy-eight people were sentenced to death in 2012, a 75 percent drop since 1996, when 315 capital punishment sentences were handed down.
"Executions, death sentences remain steady over past year," by Bill Mears at CNN.
"Capital punishment is becoming marginalized and meaningless in most of the country," said Richard Dieter, DPIC executive director and author of the report.
"In 2012, fewer states have the death penalty, fewer carried out executions, and death sentences and executions were clustered in a small number of states. It is very likely that more states will take up the question of death-penalty repeal in the years ahead."
The nonprofit organization provides accurate figures and analyses, but opposes use of the death penalty.
Ninety-eight people were executed in 1999, the highest yearly total since 1976, when the Supreme Court allowed resumption of executions by the states after a four-year moratorium.
A CNN/Opinion Research Poll conducted 14 months ago found more Americans for the first time in recent memory favor a sentence of life in prison over the death penalty for murderers, 50% to 48%.
Politico posts, "Death penalty on the decline?" It's written by Mackenzie Weinger.
“More than half the states (29) in the country either do not have the death penalty or have not carried out an execution in five years, and almost half (23) have been without executions in ten years,” according to the report. “All executions in 2012 were by lethal injection, and all used a relatively new drug, pentobarbital, either alone or in combination with other drugs. Only 16 percent of the executions this year stemmed from the murder of a black victim, even though blacks are the victims in about 50 percent of murders.”
Meanwhile, 80 people were sentenced to death in 2012, with more than half of the new sentences in the south, the study stated. That’s a slight uptick from 2011’s total of 76 inmates sentenced, which was the lowest since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976.
And the report noted that this April, Connecticut became the fifth state in five years to abolish the death penalty. The death penalty was replaced with life in prison without parole, but the ban doesn’t apply to the 11 inmates currently on death row in the state. Connecticut joined 16 other states in repealing the death penalty. A California referendum sought to abolish capital punishment, but the measure failed.
For 2013, the report points to states such as Maryland, Colorado and New Hampshire that “appear to be moving closer to legislative votes like Connecticut’s.”
"Executions, Death Sentences, Hold Steady at 2011 Levels," is Ashby Jones' post at the Wall Street Journal Law blog.
The past decade or so has seen a sharp drop-off in executions and death-sentences.
The year 2000, for instance, saw 85 executions and 224 new death sentences. By last year, those numbers had fallen to 43 and 76, respectively, according to statistics compiled by the Death Penalty Information Center, an organization largely opposed to the way the death penalty is used in the U.S.
The numbers for 2012 are very similar to those of last year, according to the DPIC, which released its study Tuesday. According to the study, the number of executions stayed the same, at 43, and 78 death sentences were imposed across the country, slightly more than last year.
Richard Dieter, the DPIC’s executive director, says it’s a continuation of a trend. While the numbers stayed roughly the same, year to year, the number of states that carried out executions fell to nine, down from 13 a year ago. Nearly three-quarters of all executions happened in four states: Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi and Arizona.
“It’s further evidence that the death penalty is narrowing, clustering, becoming more regionalized,” said Mr. Dieter. “The majority of people still philosophically support the death penalty, but when it comes to carrying it out and imposing it, death sentences and executions just aren’t happening at the rate they used to.”
Related posts are in the report index.