December 14, 2017
DPIC releases 2017 year-end report noting "second lowest" executions and death sentences in a quarter century
This press release from the Death Penalty Information Center, titled "U.S. Sees Second Fewest Death Sentences and Executions in 25 Years," provides a summary of the DPIC's 2017 year-end report on the administration of the death penalty in the United States. Here are excerpts from the press report:
Executions and death sentences remained near historically low levels in 2017, as public support for the death penalty fell to its lowest level in 45 years, according to a report released today by the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC). Eight states carried out 23 executions, half the number of seven years ago, and the second lowest total since 1991. Only the 20 executions in 2016 were lower. Fourteen states and the federal government are projected to impose 39 new death sentences in 2017, the second lowest annual total since the U.S. Supreme Court declared the death penalty unconstitutional in 1972. It was the seventh year in a row that fewer than 100 death sentences were imposed nationwide.
“Perhaps more than any place else, the changes in Harris County, Texas are symbolic of the long-term change in capital punishment in the United States. For the first time since 1974, the county that has carried out more executions than any other did not execute any prisoner or sentence any defendant to death,” said Robert Dunham, DPIC’s Executive Director.
“Across the political spectrum, more people are coming to the view that there are better ways to keep us safe than executing a handful of offenders selected from a random death-penalty lottery. There will be times when numbers fluctuate — particularly following historic highs or lows – but the steady long-term decline in the death penalty since the 1990s suggests that in most of the country, the death penalty is becoming obsolete,” Dunham said. DPIC provides information and analysis and tracks data on the death penalty, but does not take a position for or against capital punishment.
The new death sentences imposed in 2017 highlight the increasing geographic isolation and arbitrary nature of the death penalty, Dunham said. “By themselves, three outlier counties — Riverside, CA; Clark, NV; and Maricopa, AZ — were responsible for more than 30% of all the death sentences imposed nationwide. The other 3,140 counties and parishes imposed fewer new death sentences than even last year’s record low.” Riverside imposed five death sentences in 2017, Clark four, and Maricopa three, and no other county imposed as many as two. It was the second time in three years that Riverside sentenced more people to death than any other county.
States scheduled 81 executions in 2017, but 58 of them — more than 70 percent — were never carried out. Nearly 75 percent of executions took place in four states: Texas (7); Arkansas (4); Florida (3); and Alabama (3). But Texas’s state courts stayed seven other executions using new laws to permit those prisoners to obtain judicial review of false or misleading evidence, and its execution total tied 2016 for the fewest conducted by the state since 1996.
December 14, 2017 at 12:27 AM | Permalink
An expensive, rent seeking prank on the US taxpayer by the Supreme Court.
Posted by: David Behar | Dec 14, 2017 9:08:33 AM
The DPIC reports notes "Four more people were exonerated from death row in 2017, bringing the total of
exonerations since 1973 to 160. Those four cases highlighted systemic problems of racial bias,
flawed forensic testimony, inadequate access to quality representation, and prosecutorial misconduct."
Those factors, taken together with jurors' preference for a verdict of life without parole, make clear for better or for worse, that the death penalty will continue its decline.
Posted by: Dave from Iowa | Dec 14, 2017 1:59:33 PM