Think Progress posts, "In 2013, Death Penalty Rarely Doled Out To Those Whose Crimes Include Minority Victims," by Nicole Flatow and Adam Peck. There is an infographic at the link.
Of the 39 executions performed in 2013, the overwhelming majority involved a crime with a white victim. The statistics from the Death Penalty Information Center show the continued racial bias of death penalty imposition, even as it becomes a decreasingly common punishment. While 32 of the 39 executions involved a white victim, just one white person was executed for killing only a black man. This defendant, Robert Gleason, was one of just four people who “volunteered” to be executed by waiving his appeals.
The December 23 edition of the Chicago Sun-Times published the editorial, "Death penalty on decline — a positive trend."
The death penalty is on the decline in the U.S., an encouraging and humanizing trend for a nation in need of one.
Across America, citizens and politicians are learning a simple truth: The ultimate punishment cannot be fairly delivered by our flawed criminal-justice system.
Illinois has already gone down that path. More than a decade ago, then-Gov. George Ryan commuted all existing death sentences to life in prison and placed a moratorium on further executions, saying he had lost confidence in the reliability of convictions in capital cases. That was followed by abolishment of the death penalty in 2011.
"The death spiral of the death penalty," is Dick Polman's post at WHYY-FM NewsWorks National Interest blog.
As the year-end stats suggest, capital punishment is slowly but inexorably on the wane. If current trends continue, the United States may well lose its eminent status as one of the top five execution nations, an award it currently shares with mixed company: Iran, Iraq, China, and Saudi Arabia. (Maybe we'd be better off leading the world in things like health care, life expectancy, and student proficiency in math and science - instead of being way back in the pack.)
Evan Mandery, an attorney and author of Wild Justice, a new book on the death penalty, confirms the conservatives' complaint: "Only about one in 10 people who are sentenced to die are ever executed. This means that states are paying the up-front costs associated with capital punishment - longer, more expensive trials, more expensive confinement, more appeals, and only occasionally receiving the cost savings of not having to imprison a criminal for his natural life."
If only Pennsylvania would follow the example of its northeastern neighbors - New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Maryland - all of whom have shelved the death penalty. If only Pennsylvania would heed Mandery's words: "If the past 40 years have proved nothing else, it is that creating a rational, predictable system for separating those who deserve to live from those who deserve to due may be beyond human capacity."
Pennsylvania hasn't killed an inmate since 1999, yet it currently houses 189 people on death row. That alone is the quintessence of irrational.
"Ohio executes inmates more than most states," by Jessie Balmert in the Zanesville Times-Recorder.
Fewer prisoners were executed nationwide this year as states struggle to find drugs for lethal injections and public support wanes.
Nine states executed 39 prisoners in 2013 — a 9.3 percent decrease from 2012 and a 60 percent decrease from 98 executed in 1999, the most since the death penalty was reinstated, according to the Death Penalty Information Center’s year-end report released Thursday.
Three of those executions occurred in Ohio, which ranked fourth in executions behind Texas, Florida and Oklahoma, according to the report.
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.