Death Penalty Use in U.S. Declines Sharply

A year-end report released this week by the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC) shows the use of the death penalty nationally in 2015 declining sharply.  Among the DPIC findings:

  • There were 28 executions in six states, the fewest since 1991.  Three states that carried out executions (Texas, Missouri, and Georgia) accounted for 86% of the country’s executions in 2015.
  • The national number of death sentences (49) in 2015 is down 33% from just last year, and down 84% from its 1996 peak.
  • According to recent U.S. polls, opposition to the death penalty is at its highest rate since before the U.S. Supreme Court suspended the death penalty in the 1970s.
  • Traditional problems with the death penalty persist in 2015 as six more people living under a death sentence were exonerated of all charges, totaling 156 death row inmates exonerated since 1973.

The report concludes by noting that as the majority of U.S. states have either abolished the death penalty (18) or have not carried out any executions in more than nine years (12), questions continue “to mount as to whether the death penalty serves any compelling purpose.”

You can view the report here.

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