DPIC IN THE NEWS: Media Coverage of Year End Report

Over 400 media outlets around the country reported on DPIC’s recent 2011 Year-End Report. Coverage included stories on the dramatic drop in death sentences, the decline in executions, and fewer states having the death penalty. Articles appeared in the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Associated Press, Reuters, USA Today, CNN, TIME, and many other papers. National broadcast outlets such as NBC’s Nightly News, National Public Radio’s Morning Editiion, and CBS Radio ran pieces, and the headline news was noted on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Other coverage appeared on over 100 local radio and TV stations. Among the papers writing editorials on the trends cited in the report were, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, and the Dallas Morning News. The L.A. Times’s editorial noted, “The Death Penalty Information Center’s annual report on capital punishment in America, released Thursday, showed that executions continued to drop in 2011, to 43; that’s down from 85 in 2000 and 46 last year. More significantly, the number of death sentences across the country fell dramatically this year, to 78 from 112 in 2010. And perhaps most significant of all, the percentage of Americans who say they support the death penalty, which was 80% in 1994, fell to 61%, the lowest ever.” The Washington Post’s editorial attributed the decline in death sentences in part to the decreasing confidence in the capital punishment system, noting, “The risk of executing an innocent person must weigh heavily in the debate. There can be no denying that the criminal justice system makes mistakes… Public safety and appropriate punishment for the worst crimes can be achieved through life sentences without the danger of taking an innocent life.” The Dallas Morning News editorial echoed the same hesitation when it comes to the death penalty, saying “The justice system will never be foolproof, and, therefore, use of the death penalty is never justified.”

(“Doubts on the death penalty,” Los Angeles Times, editorial, December 17, 2011; “A Welcome Drop in Executions in 2011, Washington Post, editorial, December 31, 2011; “Death Penalty on the Wane,” Dallas Morning News, editorial, December 28, 2011). Read DPIC’s 2011 Year End Report. Read a summary of the media coverage. Read more Editorials on the death penalty.