Decline in Death Penalty

People hold a banner and signs on the steps of the Georgia Capitol in Atlanta during a vigil for death-row inmate Troy Davis before his Sept. 21 execution. (CNS photo/Michael Alexander, Georgia Bulletin)

In 2013 the use of the death penalty continued its steady decline by almost every measure, according to a report released in December by the Death Penalty Information Center. Executions in the United States dropped by about 10 percent from 2012, to 39 from 43, marking only the second time in the past 19 years the number was below 40. Executions in 2013 were carried out in nine states, the center reports, with 59 percent occurring in Texas (16) and Florida (7). Most death penalty states had no executions in 2013 or 2012. The D.P.I.C. reports that the number of new death sentences was also near its lowest level since the death penalty was reinstated in the 1970s. Maryland became the latest state to repeal the death penalty (for future offenses), as the number of states that used capital punishment decreased to 32. Public support for the death penalty, measured in an annual Gallup poll, declined to 60 percent, its lowest level in 40 years.

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Mike Evans
4 years 8 months ago
We are terribly remiss in presenting the case for abolition of the death penalty. It is simply unfair, immoral and barbarous. The bishops pay lip service to abolition but do not confront with any sense of urgency the horrid conditions that lead to such desperate acts as murder. Are we unwilling to hear the testimony of converted souls, of God's grace at work, of redemption? Are we unwilling to reopen cases where it is obvious that a mistrial occurred just because of a technicality? Are we willing to execute a poor person of color while allowing plea bargaining for the rich and well-represented? And while we are dealing with incarcerated men and women, how is the church responding to the rapidly growing need for chaplains and advocates for these prisoners?

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