Death Penalty Information Center’s Annual Summary
According to the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC) annual review, 2022 has been the eighth consecutive year with less than 30 people executed and less than 50 people sentenced to death during the year in the United States of America.
Other progress towards abolition include Kentucky being the second state to pass a serious mental health exemption, California enacting the Racial Justice Act for All and Florida ending to automatically put every person sentenced to death in permanent solitary confinement. The state of Oklahoma applied some changes regarding prisoner’s rights, as well, by putting an end to incarceration in windowless cells, allowing contact visitation, and giving some opportunity for outside recreation. Moreover, Governor Kate Brown of Oregan commuted every death sentence to life on parole on 13 December and ordered the dismantling of the state’s execution chamber. She referred to the completed commutations as “near abolition”.
Even though these are good reasons to be celebratory, one has to remain aware of concurrent mishandlings of executions. 2022 was referred to as the year of botched executions. Furthermore, many executions took place despite serious psychosocial disability, brain damage, intellectual disability, and strong innocence claims. This means that 72 percent of the people executed had a form of mental or psychosocial disability. In total, 18 people were executed and 20 people were sentenced to death, of which 56 percent were in Oklahoma and Texas alone. In both states five people were executed, followed by Arizona with three, Alabama and Missouri with two each and Mississippi with one person. Worryingly, Oklahoma plans on putting 58 percent of all people on death row to death. Moreover, three states namely Florida, Idaho and Mississippi expanded their legislation granting secrecy regarding executions.
California, Oregan and Florida will continue their moratorium. This is a step into the right direction; however, the abolition of the death penalty is the end goal which aligns with the public’s opinion as the support for capital punishment decreased, according to the Gallup Crime Survey. Even though this year’s executions have been the lowest execution number since 1991, except for the pandemic years, it is still 18 executions too many.
* These statistics and information come from the 2022 DPIC annual review, and do not extend to 2023. Sadly, Florida ended their moratorium on 23 February 2023 with the execution of Donald Dillbeck.