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December 6, 2008

Final execution of 2008 conducted in South Carolina

As detailed in this local story, South Carolina conducted an execution yesterday.  And this DPIC list of scheduled executions indicates that the next execution is not scheduled until January 14 in Texas.  Consequently, it appears that we can complete any end-of-year execution accounting for 2008.

I believe the total number of executions in the United States this year was 37.  As detailed by this DPIC yearly execution chart and this state-by-state execution list, the total number of executions in 2008 is the lowest since 1994, and Texas continues to be responsible for roughly half of all the executions nationwide.  In fact, over the last two years, Texas has conducted roughly 56% of executions: the Lone Star state has carried out 44 of the 79 executions in the United States during 2007 and 2008.

Of course, the constitutional litigation over lethal injection protocols, including the Supreme Court's work in Baze which prevented any executions between October 2007 and April 2008, in part explains the low number of total executions in recent years.  Nevertheless, given various predictions that there would be a rush of executions after Baze, the continuing decline in the number of executions annually remains noteworthy and significant. 

As I detailed in this recent post, during the second term of the Clinton Administration, the nation averaged more than 85 executions each year.  In surprising contrast, during the second term of the Bush Administration, the nation has averaged less than 50 executions each year.  I am not sure what these numbers and current trends might mean as we move into a new Administration, but I am sure that one could use this data to surprise folks in all those (infamous?) Georgetown cocktail parties.

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December 6, 2008 at 01:39 PM | Permalink

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