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December 19, 2013

Death Penalty Information Center releases annual report on capital punishment developments in 2013

This morning, the Death Penalty Information Center released its annual report on death penalty developments under the sparkling title, "The Death Penalty in 2013: Year End Report." The eight-page report is available at this link, and here are its list of "key findings" followed by the first part of the report's conclusion:

  • There were 39 executions in 9 states: only the second time in 19 years there were fewer than 40 executions.

  • There were 80 death sentences in 2013, a slight increase from 2012, but near the lowest number since 1973.

  • Maryland abolished the death penalty in 2013, the 6th state in six years to do so.

  • Public support for the death penalty reached its lowest level in 40 years.....

The number of executions, the size of death row, and the number of death penalty states all declined in 2013. Death sentences were near their lowest level since the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976. Even many southern states, including South Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, and Louisiana, had no death sentences in 2013. With Maryland’s repeal of capital punishment, the number of states without the death penalty grew to 18. Public support for the death penalty is at a 40-year low.

It is likely these trends will continue as more state legislatures consider repealing what has become a very expensive and unpredictable punishment. Nevertheless, over 3,000 people remain on death row, and some states like Florida and North Carolina have taken measures to expand the use of the death penalty.

The problems of mistakes, unfairness, and even the method of execution have exasperated many supporters of the death penalty, contributing to less reliance on capital punishment. Death sentences in Texas have declined by almost 80% since 1999. When examined on a county basis, only 2% of U.S. counties are responsible for the majority of executions and prisoners on death row. Because of restrictions by drug manufacturers, states have been forced to try new combinations of lethal drugs, some obtained from questionable sources, to carry out executions.

Though the DPIC's work is always impacted by its anti-death-penalty perspectives, I am always impressed by and grateful for the various ways the group collected and disseminates important information about the application of the death penalty throughout the United States.

December 19, 2013 at 08:34 AM | Permalink

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Why the death penalty decline.

The only social change is that legislators and judges are acting in conflict with the majority of the will of the people - nothing new.

Death penalty support is at an all time high - 86% from Angus Reid (April 2013), with only 9% rejecting the death penalty for all crimes, the lowest I have ever seen. Gallup shows 81% support when looking at specific death penalty eligible crimes, such as that with the Oklahoma City bomber, Timothy McVeigh (1).

From 1993 to 2012, murders dropped by 41%. Capital murders, the only ones eligible for the death penalty, likely, dropped in the 60-70% range, as capital murders are, most often, those combined with rape, robbery, or other crimes, which have dropped substantially, as well, explaining most of the drop.

Other reasons are 5 states, with Democratic Governors and Democratic majority legislators, abolished the death penalty and a number of Supreme Court cases have restricted, even more, the application of the death penalty, both since 1994 and both in conflict with the majority will of the people. (A state appellate court vacated New York's death penalty statute).

That, likely, accounts for 90% of the drop in death sentences.

The decline in executions is, solely, the product of the case managers - the judges and has nothing to do with popular death penalty support.


1) Review of Gallup and Angus Reid

86% Death Penalty Support: Highest Ever - April 2013
http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2013/11/86-death-penalty-support-highest-ever.html


Posted by: Dudley Sharp | Dec 19, 2013 9:56:24 AM

Here is another annual report. Over 15,000 people were executed extra-judicially, some by gruesome methods, after prolonged torture and sexual assault. With 100,000 unresolved missing persons reports, the number of murder victims might be 5 times higher than reported by the lawyer dominated justice system, and the left wing biased press.

About 10% were murdered by insane paranoid schizophrenics for delusional reasons. These patients were loosed on the innocent population including dozens if not hundreds of school children by the Supreme Court decision taking over psychiatry 40 years ago.

Among the murder victims are 7000 black victims, 5000 too many for their fraction of the population. It took the KKK 100 years to lynch 5000 black people. The modern feminist atrocity is 100 times more lethal to the black male murder victim, than the KKK.

Want to end 90% of all murders? Arrest the lawyer hierarchy. Give them an hour's fair trial, and execute these sponsors and protectors of the criminal on the spot, for treason and insurrection against the constitution. That penalty is unfortunately not covered in Prof. Berman's book on sentencing. But here it is. This is the sole path to ending the tyranny of these internal traitors, their Inquisition business methods plundering the assets of the productive male, their lethal damage to the economy, the slaughter of our people, including little kids going to kindergarten. This hierarchy was fully responsible for 9/11 by kowtowing and placating the enemy, instead of killing them before they killed us. They impeached falsely Pres. Clinton on a lawyer gotcha pretext, hounded him for raising taxes on the rich. He then spent all his time on himself, instead of on the enemies of the US. So I am including conservative lawyers, in the arrest list.

"18 USC § 2381 - Treason

Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States."

Once the lawyer hierarchy is eradicated, kill all the repeat violent offenders at the earliest age palatable to the public, preferably before any reaches the age of majority, when their brain function deteriorates and they go into the peaks of their criminal careers. We know who they are by age 3. How? Because they do the same thing at that age that they will do later, committing hundreds of crimes a year, including sexual assaults of classmates, and murders. "Why did you kill that little boy?" "He should not have touched my toy," replies the 5 year old murderer, who held the two year old victim under water until dead. Yes, there is a substantial collection of such individuals, covered up by the lawyer. Where are they in the above pro-criminal, lying lawyer propaganda?

The DOJ should fund massive research for a prenatal test for these offenders and for paranoid schizophrenia so they may be aborted. Their brain defects are very specific, and have been accurately enumerated for over 100 years.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 19, 2013 10:19:39 AM

Murders in Texas prisons went from 3 to 11 last year.

http://www.statesman.com/news/news/texas-prison-homicides-at-10-year-high/nTKc7/

After that lifer murdered that female guard, the chief of the guards, declared, "He will definitely lose his cafeteria privileges, now."

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 19, 2013 10:38:57 AM

"Death penalty support is at an all time high"

This reminds me of a West Wing episode where some were concerned that there was some support of a flag burning amendment but then it was noted the support is so soft. In reality, the death penalty is not strongly supported when the matter is pressed -- when juries reject the death penalty, voters continue to vote and support those who keep on delaying death sentences that were handed down etc.

Since the people keep on voting these "legislators" and in some cases the judges (or the people they vote for tend to appoint/confirm them), perhaps on some level they really are reflecting the will of the people? The divide between represented and representatives is just not that deep as a chasm as some think. Push comes to shove, the people support the death penalty but in a weak fashion. A mere drop in the bucket now and for a long time satisfies them.

Posted by: Joe | Dec 19, 2013 10:57:07 AM

Dudley Sharp, you write "The only social change is that legislators and judges are acting in conflict with the majority of the will of the people - nothing new." I disagree. The juries are imposing the death penalty less and less. Why? The increasing number of post conviction exonerations, showing that innocent persons have spent 20 or more years in prison for crimes they didn'et commit. Juries don't want the blood of possibly innocent people on their heads. Second, the increasing number of cases in which overzealous prosecutors suppress exculpatory evidence causes even the most rabidly right wing jurors to hesitate in imposing the death penalty. Even they think it unfair that one side hides the ball. As Judge Kozinzki of the Ninth Circuit has recently said there is an "epidemic" of Brady violations in the land.

Posted by: anon | Dec 19, 2013 11:01:11 AM

"Though the DPIC's work is always impacted by its anti-death-penalty perspectives..."

Oh no, not that!!! Surely you jest!

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 19, 2013 11:53:21 AM

I agree with anon. The death penalty is in decline because juries are imposing it less often. I think the DNA exonerations and the ongoing skulduggery of the prosecutors (see e.g., case of Michael Morton) are body blows to the DP proponents.

Posted by: onlooker14 | Dec 19, 2013 12:07:16 PM

By prosecuting and convicting some who turn out to be innocent, and by hiding exculpatory evidence, the prosecturs themselves are hastening the decline of the death penalty.

Posted by: Amy | Dec 19, 2013 12:11:09 PM

Amy, I note:
(1.) you don't say executing "some who turn out to be innocent"

(2.) neither do you attempt to refute D. Sharpe's statement: "From 1993 to 2012, murders dropped by 41%. Capital murders, the only ones eligible for the death penalty, likely, dropped in the 60-70% range"

(3.) nor do you attempt to refute D. Sharpe's statement: "Death penalty support is at an all time high - 86% from Angus Reid (April 2013), with only 9% rejecting the death penalty for all crimes"

Perhaps, Amy's declining support for the death penalty is related to prosecutors' misconduct.

Posted by: Adamakis | Dec 19, 2013 12:47:41 PM

As recently noted by the Chief Judge of the Ninth Circuit, “There is an epidemic of Brady violations abroad in the land. Only judges can put a stop to it.” United States v. Olsen , 2013 WL 6487376 (9th Cir. Dec. 10, 2013) (Kozinski, J, dissenting from denial of pet. for rehearing en banc).

Perhaps word is spreading that some prosecutors win the game by cheating. Even where the case for death appears overwhelming, one or more jurors may draw the line at giving a cheater the victory.

Posted by: Michael R. Levine | Dec 19, 2013 12:51:23 PM

Alex Kozinski is not considered a liberal judge. If he says there is an "epidemic" of Brady violations, matters are very serious. Just a very quicky search on my part shows that Kozinski may be right:

Ferguson v. Dormire, 2013 WL 5905502, 1 (Mo.App. W.D, Nov. 5, 2013) (murder and robbery convictions vacated because prosecution suppressed favorable evidence of an interview with person which impeached testimony of key identification witness rendering verdict “ not worthy of confidence.”)


State v. Keenan, _ N.E.2d _ [2013 WL 5312538] (Ohio App., Sept. 19, 2013) [Dismissal with prejudice of capital indictment by state trial court – because Brady violations irreparably prejudiced the defense finding that the state had committed “serious and disturbing” Brady violations, withholding seven specific categories of evidence. The violations came to light only when, after the state had been “stonewalling” for nearly 20 years, the state was compelled to provide discovery in the habeas litigation brought by Keenan’s co-defendant. )

Amado v. Gonzalez, 734 F.3d 936 (9th Cir. October 31, 2013) (murder conviction reversed because of prosecutor’s suppression of impeachment evidence—that key witness had prior robbery conviction for which on probation and that he had gang affiliation);

Also saw a couple of relevant news articles: December 17, 2013-- After spending nearly two decades in prison, a man convicted of a double homicide in New Haven in 1990 was ordered freed by a federal judge, who ruled this week that the prosecution had withheld evidence of his innocence. The judge, Charles S. Haight Jr., said in his decision on Monday that the man, Scott T. Lewis, was “entitled to federal habeas relief because the state suppressed exculpatory and impeachment evidence.” Mr. Lewis must be released from the MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution in South Suffield, Conn., within 60 days unless the state decides to retry him. A spokesman for the state’s attorney’s office said it was reviewing the ruling. …Judge Haight found that Mr. Lewis should have been allowed to present evidence at his trial that the key witness against him was coached by a police detective, Vincent Raucci, who retired in 1996.

GEORGE SOULIOTES (July 3, 2013 court found compelling evidence of innocence after defendant spent more than 10 years for his conviction for arson in Modesto, Cal.)

RONALD ROSS ( in 2013 after serving 7 years of a life sentence, defendant was exonerated of murder in California after false testimony by key witness discovered) .

JOHNNY WILLIAMS (March, 2013 court overturned conviction for sex crimes in Alameda County after DNA evidence proved client’s innocence —after client served 14 years in prison)


In light of the above, any wonder juries are imposing the death penalty less frequently??

Posted by: a lawyer | Dec 19, 2013 1:35:06 PM


Adamakis, you respond to Amy that she does not refute D. Sharpe's statement: "Death penalty support is at an all time high - 86% from Angus Reid (April 2013), with only 9% rejecting the death penalty for all crimes"

Sharpe may well be right that in the abstract support for the death penalty is high. It's the concrete that's the problem. When the 12 jurors are sitting and deliberating in the penalty phase, they're just not imposing the death penalty the way they used to. Given Levine's citation to the startling observation by Kozinki (who is brilliant and hardly a liberal), and given the cases cited by "a lawyer," it's no wonder that the 12 in the box are not imposing death as frequently as they used to. I'm as pro-death penalty as anybody, but knowing what I know now, even I would hesitate were I on the penalty phase jury.

Posted by: Peter from Texas | Dec 19, 2013 1:57:31 PM

I saw the story of Michael Morton on T.V. That did it for me. Like my fellow Texans, I was pro-death penaly all the way. No more. Can't trust the prosecutors--and this guy was even made a judge. Can you imagine, letting an innocent man rot in prison for 25 years all the while sitting on exculpatory evidence. And all the while while the guilty guy was out committing another murder! After this, why should jurors trust any prosecutor?? At least you know where defense lawyers are coming from---but you used to think that prosecutors had the white hats. Ha.

Posted by: Helen from Texas not a lawyer | Dec 19, 2013 2:02:41 PM

Epidemic of Brady violations indeed. Here are some of interest:

Milke v. Ryan, 711 F.3d 998 (9th Cir. 2013) (conviction and death sentence reversed where prosecutor committed Brady violation)


In re Stenson, 174 Wash.2d 474, 276 P.3d 286 (Wash.,2012) (murder conviction and death sentence vacated because state suppressed FBI files relating to forensic evidence that was favorable to the defense)

In re Bacigalupo, 55 Cal.4th 312 (2012) (death sentence vacated where prosecutor suppressed favorable evidence it received from informant that supported defendant’s claim that he committed murder because of threats against his family when “prosecution argued during penalty phase that there was “no evidence of duress whatsoever and that greed was defendant's sole motive”);

Wolfe v. Clarke, 691 F.3d 410 (4th Cir. 2012) (murder conviction and death sentence vacated where state suppressed police report establishing motive not only for government witness to implicate someone else, but to point the finger specifically at petitioner) ;

Phillips v. Ornoski, 673 F.3d 1168 (9th Cir. 2012) (death penalty vacated because the prosecutor’s deceit regarding the immunity given to a key witness violated Brady and Napue. )

State v. Hollin, 970 N.E.2d 147, 149 (Ind.,2012) (burglary conviction reversed because of state's Brady violation: failure to disclose pending criminal matters against alleged accomplice and fact that accomplice had changed his pretrial account of alleged burglary only after being charged with a new felony) ;

Ex Parte Wyatt, 2012 WL 1647004, 1 (Tex.Crim.App., 2012) (rape conviction and 99-year sentence vacated because state suppressed evidence that would have supported the defense's theory of mis-identification.)

Posted by: Michael R. Levine | Dec 19, 2013 2:09:09 PM

Helen: Have you seen the result of a real car crash lately. Has it done it for you, no more driving nor being a passenger? And if you are thinking of walking, about a thousand pedestrian were flung into the air and killed the rough way. Has that done it for you as far as walking anywhere? If it hasn't, then be quiet about the innocence rate in the death penalty.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 19, 2013 2:10:00 PM

Not wanting to throw too much of a wet blanket over those oozing to see Dzokhar Tsarnaev get off with a stern lecture for blowing to bits an eight year old boy who happened to be standing near the finish line of the Boston Marathon (along with two other people), I might just mention that the most recent Gallup poll, from two months ago, had the following results:

Those who think the DP is imposed too often = 22%, down from 25% two years ago.

Those who think the DP isn't imposed often enough = 44%, up from 40% two years ago.

Check it our for yourself by Googling "Gallup death penalty"

P.S. If anyone has any evidence that prosecutors are hiding and/or manufacturing evidence in that case -- and I mean evidence, not bile -- please feel free to post it.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 19, 2013 5:15:24 PM

A lawyer: Do you agree all immunities should be ended, so that the victims of misconduct can be made whole?

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 19, 2013 5:49:56 PM

Bill Otis, you write "P.S. If anyone has any evidence that prosecutors are hiding and/or manufacturing evidence in that case -- and I mean evidence, not bile -- please feel free to post it."

Bill, if we had evidence of it, there wouldn't be a problem would there? The problem is that the prosecutors (and or cops) bury the evidence; it doesn't surface (as in the case of Michael Morton and so many others mentioned above until 25 years later.

Posted by: anon15 | Dec 19, 2013 6:39:56 PM

anon15 --

In other words, you have no evidence.

Thank you.

P.S. Let me guess -- the cops manufactured the tape showing Dzokhar dropping the bomb about six feet behind the little boy, is that right? Was it the same group of cops who manufactured the tape of the moon landing in that studio in Burbank?

'Fess up, anon15. You know full well that Dzokhar dropped the knapsack bomb. The reason you want to throw blame at the authorities is not that you (or any other sane person) thinks that Dzokhar didn't do it. The reason is that you don't think his actions were wrong. Amerika had it coming, dontcha know. The eight year-old, too. Gads, you abolitionists are sooooooo compassionate!

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 19, 2013 7:06:00 PM

well bill like the cops like to say. Where there is smoke. there is fire. Also love the one about if you have nothing to hide. What are you afraid of.

Considering the contortions DA's go through to avoid giving up evidence. Sorry if I know a DA had pulled any of this shit. They would simply be dead. Executed for violation of their Oath of Office to uphold the constitution and law of this country. And any cop retarded enough to object would get same!

Their crime. Conspiracy to cover it up!

Posted by: rodsmith | Dec 19, 2013 11:32:17 PM

rodsmith --

So do we abandon the death penalty for Dzokhar Tsarnaev because of the wholly speculative possibility that the prosecutors will cheat?

I mean the guy blew up a little kid with a shrapnel-filled bomb out of pure hate for the United States. No sensate person doubts it.

Assuming that reliable evidence shows that he was of sound mind, does he deserve the death penalty or not?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 20, 2013 12:12:37 AM

O.K. Bill, One of the big 12 in the box may no vote for death--especially with Judy Clark on the team. Tear your hair out, but it could come out that way.
If only you were on the jury and the jury was composed of one.

Posted by: lwop supporter | Dec 20, 2013 1:22:05 AM

lwop supporter: Please discuss lwop as an immune license to kill. Lifer kills female guard, definitely loses cafeteria privileges. 1993 WTC bomber shoves pencil into the eye of a prison guard. Tell us if you are a lawyer, and that will explain everything.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 20, 2013 8:20:58 AM

Idiots releasing a report when another execution is scheduled next week. These leftys wont give up...all the news and little facts. How about the fact that NEW states like MO, AL, GA executed killers. And TN is ready to execute about 10 next year alone. Countires like Japan have woken up and now execute killers more frequently. DP is alive and well. If CA ever starts again it will be a banner year. More state legislatures will be taken over by pro-DP and anti-criminals POL...i.e (R) vs (D). The lies of the left are working against them.

Posted by: deano | Dec 20, 2013 8:37:34 AM

SC --

"lwop supporter: Please discuss lwop as an immune license to kill. Lifer kills female guard, definitely loses cafeteria privileges."

Good luck on getting an answer!

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 20, 2013 11:10:29 AM

Bill you write "good luck on getting an answer" do "lwop supporter: Please discuss lwop as an immune license to kill. Lifer kills female guard, definitely loses cafeteria privileges."

Horrible cases like the one you cite certainlly exist, but still have not persuaded the big 12 in the penalty phase to impose more death sentences. That's the answer. We know how you and deano and others above would vote were you on the penalty phase jury. Good luck getting chosen.

Posted by: lwop supporter | Dec 20, 2013 11:46:43 AM

Bill: I assume sincerity and well thought out policy. When none returns, only rent seeking remains to explain Abolition of the death penalty.

I can make a cogent argument against the death penalty. For example, does it cause contagion, where an execution causes disturbed people to murder more people? That is a factual question.

I support it as Saddam Hussein did. When you have a person, you have a problem. When you do not have a person, the problem is solved. So, why take a chance?

He learned this from the KGB and Stalin. But it is the most common sense, most reliable incapacitation for people who have proven they cannot live among us without hurting people. Remember Iraq under Saddam? Women thrived. There was peace between ethnic groups, and we had an intermittent ally against Iran. Those were the good old days.

His execution caused hundreds of additional suicides, some among kids. I even had a dream of drinking an espresso and leaping off the scaffold, like Italian Olympic skier Tomba. So executions should neither be public, nor even publicized or announced in the newspaper.

I even offered the sole cruelty of the death penalty today to the appeal bar of California, they declined it. The announced date. Even hospice patients are spared the exact date of their demise. The Japanese announce it to the condemned and to the family, the morning of the date. That is more proper, and should be adopted without an appellate decision.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 20, 2013 11:49:16 AM

lwop supporter --

"Horrible cases like the one you cite certainly exist, but still have not persuaded the big 12 in the penalty phase to impose more death sentences."

Actually, there are more than 3000 people on death row.

"That's the answer. We know how you and deano and others above would vote were you on the penalty phase jury."

You know nothing of the kind. If you'd care to ask, however, the great likelihood is that in most murder cases, I would vote for something less than death. Unlike you, I don't make up my mind based strictly on ideology, and in advance of hearing the specifics of the case.

"Good luck getting chosen."

Having been an AUSA, my chances of getting chosen as a juror in a criminal case are approximately zero no matter what my views may be on capital punishment.

Now let me ask you this: What punishment do you think is just for a previously convicted multiple killer already serving LWOP, and who kills again in prison?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 20, 2013 12:13:23 PM

Compare the busy death penalty of Saddam Hussein to the subsequent bloodbath, with perhaps a million deaths after his removal, and the takeover and management of the Iraqi nation by the American lawyer, a natural catastrophe of unprecedented proportion in the Middle East.

Wherever the cult criminal goes and takes over, it is like an endless natural disaster. But we did drop a cool $trillion in rent seeking.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 20, 2013 2:20:22 PM

Bill, you write "Actually, there are more than 3000 people on death row." That's true, but, as the article points out, fewer juries are imposing the death penalty in the last years. The 3000 are the hangover for many years in the past, incluidng many who have been on death row more than 20 years.

Bill, I notice that in all your e-mails, you never address the point that prosecutors hide favorable evidence from the defense. You never address the point that persons have been convicted and served many years in prison only to be exonerated by DNA evidence and the discover of prosecutorial skulduggery.

Posted by: Amy | Dec 20, 2013 3:22:01 PM

Bill, you write "Now let me ask you this: What punishment do you think is just for a previously convicted multiple killer already serving LWOP, and who kills again in prison."

Answer, its up to the 12 jurors in the penalty phase. They have to hear the arguments. If a jury can vote for LWOP for the woman who drowned her children, or in other cases handled by Judy Clark for example, they can certainly vote for LWOP in the case you cite. It doesn't even take all 12; just one person, depending on the state. In the unlikely event, he got LWOP again, he'd have to be incarcerated at Florence, or perhaps even Guantanamo.

Posted by: lwop supporter | Dec 20, 2013 3:28:46 PM

lwop supporter --

The question I asked was about substance, not procedure. I am well aware that, as a matter or procedure, it only takes only one holdout to hang a jury. That's not the question. The question is what punishment do YOU think is just for a previously convicted multiple killer already serving LWOP, and who kills again in prison.

What is your answer?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 20, 2013 3:55:49 PM

Bill, you ask "The question is what punishment do YOU think is just for a previously convicted multiple killer already serving LWOP, and who kills again in prison."

Answer for that person, were I on the penalty phase jury, I would vote for death.

Posted by: lwop supporter | Dec 21, 2013 1:52:21 AM

lwop supporter --

Thank you for your direct, and in my view correct, answer.

It's often hard to get a direct answer on this forum, and you came up roses.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 21, 2013 4:39:23 AM

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