Some good news for once to come out of the States, instances of Capital Punishment aka the Death Penalty have dropped in 2008.
The use of capital punishment in the United States waned this year, as state and federal courts executed 37 inmates, a 14-year low, according to a new report. And courts sentenced 111 people to death in 2008, the lowest number of new condemnations in three decades. In 2007, 42 people were executed and 115 were sentenced to death.
The capital punishment data was compiled by the Death Penalty Information Center, a research and anti-death-penalty advocacy group.
The lull in executions defied predictions that more prisoners would be put to death after a Supreme Court ruling in April upheld lethal injection and ended an eight-month moratorium. Since that decision, Baze v. Rees, states have granted stays in 25 capital cases as courts worked through issues including the mental illness of defendants, ineffective representation and revelations of potentially exculpatory evidence.
Four death row inmates were exonerated in 2009, raising the total number of exonerations to 130 since 1976.
Richard C. Deiter, the executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, said that the decline in executions proved that capital punishment was becoming less popular.
“Revelations of mistakes, cases reversed by DNA testing, all of these things have put a dent in the whole system and caused hesitation,” Mr. Deiter said. “I don’t think what is happening is a moral opposition to the death penalty yet, but there is a greater scrutiny applied to the death penalty that wasn’t there before.”
Executions declined even in Texas, which led the nation with 26 inmates put to death in 2008. Over all, most of the nation’s executions occurred in Southern states.