DPIC's Year End Report: Death Sentences Remain Near Historic Low

On December 18, the Death Penalty Information Center released its latest report, The Death Penalty in 2012: Year End Report,” on developments in capital punishment in the past year. The report noted the number of new death sentences in 2012 was the second lowest since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, representing a nearly 75% decline since 1996, when there were 315 new death sentences. Only nine states carried out executions in 2012, equaling the fewest number of states to do so in 20 years. In 2012, use of the death penalty was clustered in a few states. Just four states (Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, and Arizona) were responsible for over three-quarters of executions nationwide. Death sentences were also primarily imposed in a few areas, with four states (Florida, California, Texas, and Pennsylvania) accounting for almost two-thirds of the nation’s death sentences. “Capital punishment is becoming marginalized and meaningless in most of the country,” said Richard Dieter, DPIC’s Executive Director and the author of the report. “In 2012, fewer states have the death penalty, fewer carried out executions, and death sentences and executions were clustered in a small number of states. It is very likely that more states will take up the question of death penalty repeal in the years ahead.”

(Read “The Death Penalty in 2012: Year End Report,” Dec. 18, 2012; Read DPIC’s Press Release; View a video about the report). See other DPIC Reports.