DPIC's Year End Report: Death Sentences Plunge to Historic Lows

On December 15, the Death Penalty Information Center released its latest report, The Death Penalty in 2011: Year End Report,” on statistics and trends in capital punishment in the past year. The report noted that new death sentences dropped to 78 in 2011, marking the first time since capital punishment was reinstated in 1976 that the country has produced less than 100 death sentences in a year. It represents a 75% decline since 1996, when there were 315 new death sentences. California, which has the country’s largest death row, saw its death sentences drop by more than half this year - 10 compared with 29 in 2010. Only 13 states carried out executions in 2011, 74% of which were in the South. Only 8 states carried out more than one execution. Texas led the country with 13 executions, but that number represents a 46% decrease from 2009, when there were 24 executions. “This year, the use of the death penalty continued to decline by almost every measure,” said Richard Dieter, DPIC’s Executive Director and the report’s author. “Executions, death sentences, public support, the number of states with the death penalty all dropped from previous years. Whether it’s concerns about unfairness, executing the innocent, the high costs of the death penalty, or the general feeling that the government just can’t get it right, Americans moved further away from capital punishment in 2011.”

(Read “The Death Penalty in 2011: Year End Report,” December 15, 2011; Read DPIC’s Press Release.) See Sentencing and Executions in 2011. See also previous DPIC Reports.