The current issue of the Texas Observer posts, "To Kill? Or Not to Kill? As executions decline in Texas, a small-town prosecutor decides whether to seek the death penalty." It's by Maurice Chammah. Here's a brief excerpt from this must-read:
But whether to seek the death penalty, whether it was even on the table, was Steven Reis’ decision alone.
The death penalty is declining all over the United States, and especially in Texas, the state most famous for capital punishment. The statistics are startling: Texas sent nine men to death row in 2013, down from 48 in 1999. The lengthy appeals process in capital cases—offenders spend on average about a decade on death row before execution—means it takes a long time for the number of new death sentences to influence the number of executions. Still, executions are declining too. Between 2010 and 2013 there were 61 executions in Texas. Between 2000 and 2003, there were 114.
Explanations for the death penalty’s decline run from culture to policy and back again. Violent crime overall has decreased in recent years.
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