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December 22, 2005

Death sentences continue to decline

As noted at TalkLeft and How Appealing, the Los Angeles Times has this article drawing from a new DPIC report indicating that the number of death sentences handed out in 2005 marked a new low in recent years.  The LA Times article also effectively reviews other major death penalty developments in 2005, most of which suggest that we are continuing to see the death penalty slowly dying. 

This press release provides more details about the DPIC report (which does not yet appear to be on-line).  And below are a few of the posts in which I have previously spotlighted declines in death:

UPDATE:  The DPIC's year-end report is now available at this link.  The report is rich with data and here is its conclusion:

America has become less comfortable with the use of the death penalty and more accepting of the sentence of life without parole as an alternative to capital punishment.  Legislators, jurors, judges, and victims have shown greater interest in avoiding the risks, the costs, and the unpredictability of the death penalty when many of the same objectives can be accomplished with a sentence that is already widely used.

Death penalty numbers were generally down in 2005 and some states took action to eliminate the death penalty completely.  Religious organizations, judges, conservative political leaders, and editorial writers from papers around the country raised new challenges to capital punishment.

There were some counter-trends as well. On the federal level, there was an expanded use of the death penalty and efforts in Congress to restrict further the capital appeals process. Nevertheless, public support is at its lowest point in the modern era and the problems that have caused this erosion in support continue to plague the system.

December 22, 2005 at 10:14 AM | Permalink

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