American death penalty area shrank further in 2012
More than half of the states (29) either have no death penalty or have not carried out an execution in five years. The number of executions in 2012 (43) was 56 percent less than the peak in 1999 and equal to last year’s total.
The number of new death sentences in 2012 was the second lowest since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976. Seventy-eight people were sentenced to death in 2012, representing a 75 percent decline since 1996 when there were 315 sentences.
Many death penalty states with histories of high use had no new death sentences or no executions in 2012. North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia (which is second to Texas in total executions since 1976) had no death sentences and no executions.
“Marginalised and meaningless”
“Capital punishment is becoming marginalised and meaningless in most of the country,” said Richard Dieter, DPIC’s Executive Director and the author of the report (watch the video below). “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.”
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 Alabama) accounting for two-thirds of the nation’s death sentences.
The number of states with the death penalty declined this year as Connecticut joined 16 other states that have repealed the death penalty. Illinois abolished the death penalty in 2011. Five states in five years have abandoned capital punishment; the other three were New York, New Jersey, and New Mexico. California came close to repealing the death penalty by a ballot measure in November.