Death penalty steadily declining in the US

By Amanda Stewart,

States have continued to reduce the need to sentence people to death, with only 39 people across nine executed during 2013.

According to The Register Guard, Maryland repealed the death penalty, continuing a one state a year ending the punishment.

Outside the trend of the rest of the country North Carolina and Florida both made attempts at speeding up the execution clock, which is normally a year long, across the states that still use the death penalty. North Carolina also repealed the Racial Justice Act which added an additional appeal for inmates who felt that their death sentences were because of their race.

Florida lawmakers shortened the timeline for death row to six months after all appeals had been exhausted. Before this law was enacted the average wait was 22 years.

The number of people executed on death row this year is a 20-year low for the United States. According to The Associated Press, it is only the second time in 19 years that fewer than 40 people were put to death for crimes in the U.S.

There have been 80 new death sentences so far this year, which is three higher than 2012, but way lower than the 315 served in 1996. The 39 executions were carried out in nine states. Texas with 16, followed by Florida which had seven. Oklahoma had six, Ohio had three and Alabama, Georgia and Virginia had one each.

The downward trend in death penalties in the U.S. may begin with people realizing that mistakes can be made and that has made many hesitant to sentence people to death. Another reason is the boycotts occurring in Europe over the controversial drug used for lethal injection. These boycotts have made it difficult for the U.S. to obtain the injections for capital punishment.

The death row population has decreased each year since 2001. In 2000 3,670 inmates awaited execution. This year, approximately 500 fewer people await execution.


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