That's the title of an editorial published in today's Washington Post. It begins the latest round of coverage of the DPIC annual report. Here's an excerpt:
The Death Penalty Information Center and other capital-punishment foes attribute the death penalty’s decline to waning public support amid concerns about possibly innocent defendants on death row and other flaws in the system. This is part of the story, but the decline in capital punishment also reflects the decline in commissions of the crime for which it is most often imposed: murder. The national murder rate in 2012, 4.7 per 100,000 population, was among the lowest recorded since 1963. Fewer murder cases mean fewer potential death sentences. In a safer society, there is less of the fear that often drives demand for harsh punishments. The rate at which U.S. juries sentence defendants to death has fallen from its post-1976 peak of 17.8 per 1,000 murders, in 1999, to 5.1 per 1,000 murders in 2013 — a 71 percent decline. Meanwhile, the murder rate dropped 25 percent during that time.
Supporters and opponents of capital punishment alike have reason to applaud the remarkable reductions in homicide, and other violent crime, that this country and its law enforcement agencies have achieved in the past quarter-century. Preliminary estimates from such cities as Chicago and Philadelphia, which are on course to record the fewest homicides this year since 1965 and 1967, respectively, suggest that 2013 brought further progress.
The Week reports, "The death penalty is going out of style," by Carmel Lobello.
It has been a slow year for state-sanctioned death.
In the U.S., there were just 39 executions in nine states this year, a 10 percent drop from 2012, and only the second time in the past 19 years the number has fallen below 40, the Death Penalty Information Center reported earlier this month. Judges handed down more than 80 death sentences, nearly the lowest number since 1976, when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the death penalty. In comparison, the number of sentences in 1996 was 315.
As the number of state-mandated killings has fallen, so has public support for them. A Gallup poll published this year shows that in 2013, support for capital punishment reached its lowest level in 40 years — down to 60 percent, compared with 80 percent in 1994. In addition, 52 percent of those surveyed said they believe the death penalty is used unfairly, down from 58 percent in 2010, and 60 percent in 2006.
"No executions in SC for more than 2 years," is the AP report from South Carolina by Meg Kinnard. It's via the Spartanburg Herald Journal.
For the second year in a row, South Carolina saw no executions in 2013. The state had no new death sentences in the last year, either.
It's a downward trend that mirrors national patterns that are moving away from putting inmates to death. In a report that came out this month, the Death Penalty Information Center said that fewer and fewer people are being executed nationwide.
At the end of June 2005, there were 72 people awaiting execution in South Carolina. Since then, there have been fewer than a dozen, and several inmates have left death row after winning appeals that ended in their sentences being overturned.
Forty-six inmates are on South Carolina's death row, all men who range in age from 30 to 69 years old, according to the state Department of Corrections.
South Carolina's last execution came in May 2011, when 36-year-old Jeffrey Motts was put to death by injection for strangling his cellmate.
In North Carolina, the Wilmington Star News reports, "Goolsby pushes forward with effort restart death penalty," by Molly Parker.
An annual national study recently released shows states declined use of the death penalty while Sen. Thom Goolsby, R-New Hanover, pushes for North Carolina to rejuvenate it in this state that has seen a seven-year moratorium due to legal tangles.
"I have spent a great deal of time with the families of murder victims," said Goolsby, who is expected to face several challengers to the left in next year's elections. "I have felt their pain and seen their endless tears. For me it is very simple: Cold-blooded, first-degree murderers deserve the death penalty, and the families of murder victims deserve closure."
Though it's unclear how or if Goolsby's efforts will restart the death penalty – that change itself is likely to get tangled in legal battles – a topic as emotional and divisive as this could become a wedge issue in his re-election bid next year.
Goolsby is joined by many of his fellow conservative Republicans in his push, but nationally the country seems to be moving in the opposite direction, some experts contend.
Earlier coverage of the DPIC report begins at the link; it also begins in North Carolina.