Came across this in the Supreme Court's official blog, www.scotusblog.com.
Apparently, the use of the death penalty is waaaaay down from the 1990s, when it was all the rage. Now, it is mostly used by only sixteen counties in the U.S. That is about 1/2 of 1% of U.S. counties that are doing almost all of the executions. Read below to learn more:
New documentation of the punishment’s decline arrives each day. Seven states repealed the death penalty in the last decade. Four states are currently under a suspension of executions ordered by the governor. Executions, where they occur, are rare. Last year, only six states executed prisoners – and over eighty percent of those took place in Texas, Missouri and Georgia – making it the lowest number of executions (twenty-eight) in twenty years. And while thirty states and the federal government retain the death penalty on the books, a majority of these have not had an execution in ten years or more. Perhaps most telling, death sentences have reached a forty-year low. Put another way, death sentences are down 600% from a high of 315 imposed in 1996 to just forty-nine imposed in 2015. Texas – the historical “capital” of capital punishment in America – typically had thirty or more death sentences imposed each year in the 1990s. Last year, there were two death sentences handed down in the Lone Star State. While sixty to seventy percent of Americans lived in states that carried out the death penalty in the 1990s, now only about a third live in states that have carried out an execution in the last three years.
Where the death penalty persists, researchers are beginning to understand why – and the answers have little to do with the heinousness of the offense or the moral culpability of the offender. There are just sixteen counties (out of over three thousand in the United States) where five or more death sentences have been imposed between 2010-2015. A new report issued last month reveals that capital punishment continues to flourish in this tiny fraction (or fraction of a fraction) of counties because these jurisdictions share three common characteristics: a history of racial exclusion, poor representation for the accused, and overzealous prosecutors who pursue the punishment at all costs. As a result, these jurisdictions have a disproportionate share of wrongful convictions and excessive punishment of young offenders, people who are mentally disabled, and those who have experienced great trauma in their lives. The influence of such extra-legal factors is a sign that the death penalty continues to be inflicted in an arbitrary and capricious manner.
What do you think of the death penalty?