The Death Penalty Information Center's The Death Penalty in 2013: Year End Report is available at the link. You can also find a news release, infographic, and a video at the link.
The Guardian is hosting a live chat today at 1:00 pm (ET), 12:00 noon (CT), 6:00 pm (GMT).
Join reporter Ed Pilkington and report author Richard C Dieter in a live chat about the state of the death penalty in the US at 1pm ET, 12:00 noon CT (6pm GMT.) Tweet your questions to @EdPilkington, or leave them in the module below (at link.)
Here's a roundup of coverage:
"Executions in US drop close to 20-year low in 2013," is by Pete Yost for the Associated Press.
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.
The New York Times reports, "In Death Penalty’s Steady Decline, Some Experts See a Societal Shift," by Erik Eckholm.
The death penalty in the United States continued its pattern of broad decline in 2013, with experts attributing the low numbers to a critical shortage of drugs used for lethal injection, increasing public concern over judicial mistakes and the expense of capital cases, and a growing preference for life without parole.
Eighty death sentences were imposed by American courts this year, compared with a peak of 315 in 1994, and 39 executions took place, compared with 98 in 1999, according to an annual accounting released on Thursday by the Death Penalty Information Center, a private group in Washington.
“A societal shift is underway,” said Richard Dieter, the executive director of the information center, which opposes capital punishment.
In May, Maryland became the sixth state in the last six years to abolish the death penalty, leaving 32 states with capital punishment on the books. But for the second straight year, only nine states put prisoners to death.
Douglas A. Berman, an expert on criminal sentencing at Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law, said a significant retrenchment in the use of the death penalty was taking place, but also noted that “a majority of states and people still favor using it for the most serious crimes.”
"State of the Death Penalty as 2013 Ends," is by Maggie Clark for Stateline.
States continued to turn away from the death penalty this year, with just 39 people executed in nine states, according to a year-end report from the Death Penalty Information Center. Maryland repealed the death penalty this year, continuing a six-year trend of one state each year ending the punishment.
"Number of executions and new death sentences decline," by Kevin Johnson for USA Today.
Although the 80 new death sentences this year represent three more than in 2012, the number has declined dramatically since 1996 when it reached a high of 315.
At the same time, a decline in the numbers on death row has outpaced the number of executions. There were 3,108 inmates on death row across the country as of April 1, down from 3,170 at the same time last year.
"Fewer death sentences, fewer people on death row will mean fewer executions,'' said Richard Dieter, the center's executive director.
Texas, with traditionally the busiest execution chamber in the U.S., maintained that position with 16 executions this year, one more than 2012. But Dieter noted that those numbers may not be sustained because there were fewer new death sentences issued this year — nine — than there were executions.
National Journal posts, "Death Penalty Opponents Are Winning … Almost Everywhere," by Dustin Volz.
Executions are on the decline across the United States—unless you live in Texas or Florida.
The U.S. put to death 39 people in 2013, just the second time in the past two decades that number has fallen below 40, according to data compiled by the Death Penalty Information Center. Additionally, the number of new death sentences issued in 2013 was near its lowest level since capital punishment was reinstated in the 1970s.
Total executions fell by four overall from last year, but the two states that carried out the most—Texas (16) and Florida (7)—both increased their pace from 2012. Together, the two accounted for 59 percent of all U.S. executions in 2013, although Texas carried out fewer than 10 death sentences for the sixth consecutive year—a stark contrast to the 48 recorded in 1999.
"Death penalty in the United States gradually declining," by Bill Mears at CNN.
A shortage of lethal injection chemicals has contributed to declining use of capital punishment in the United States with a new report on Thursday noting only 39 executions this year.
It is only the second time in the past two decades the annual number of inmates put to death has dropped below 40.
The total represents a 10 percent reduction from last year. No further executions are scheduled in 2013.
"Twenty years ago, use of the death penalty was increasing. Now it is declining by almost every measure," said Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, and the author of the report.
"Drug Shortage Helps Lead to Fall in 2013 Executions," by Ashby Jones of the Wall Street Journal.
The long-running controversy over lethal-injection drugs helped push the number of executions in 2013 down by about 10%, according to a new report published Thursday.
In 2013, nine states were responsible for 39 executions, four fewer than the 43 carried out in both 2012 and 2011, according to an annual study of the death penalty by the Death Penalty Information Center, a Washington, D.C., nonprofit organization.
With the exception of 2008, in which 37 inmates were put to death, the 2013 figure represents the lowest since 1994, when 31 people were executed.
"U.S. executions continued to decline in 2013," by David G. Savage for the Los Angeles Times.
The drop-off is especially noteworthy in Texas, the nation’s leader in carrying out executions. This year, the Lone Star State saw nine new death sentences, marking the sixth year in a row it has recorded fewer than 10.
Richard Dieter, the report’s author, says the drop-off may be explained by a 2005 change in the law that gave juries the choice of sentencing murderers to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Before, jurors had to sentence a murderer to die to be assured he would never go free.
AFP posts, "The US executed fewer people in 2013," via GlobalPost.
The UN General Assembly called in 2007 and 2008 for a worldwide moratorium on the death penalty — an EU initiative that the United States voted against alongside the likes of China, North Korea and Iran.
"39 Death Row Executions in 2013, a 10% Drop from Last Year," by Courtney Subramanian at Time.
National Law Journal reports, "Support for Death Penalty Slipping, Organization Finds," by Marcia Coyle.
"Report: U.S. Executions Dipped in 2013," by Steven Nelson for US News & World Report.
"Declining executions could become obsolete in US by 2025, advocate says," by Massoud Hayoun at Aljazeera America.
"European boycott of death penalty drugs lowers rate of US executions," by Ed Pilkington for the Guardian.
Politico posts, "Report: Executions dip in 2013," by Mackenzie Weinger.
Later today I'll have state-specific news reports.