Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
March 30, 2015

A ‘Societal Shift’ Underway on Death Penalty

The New York Times points to a “societal shift” emerging from the recent decline in this nation’s death sentences:

“Eighty death sentences were imposed by American courts this year, compared with a peak of 315 in 1994, and 39 executions took place, compared with 98 in 1999.”

Experts cite a number of contributory reasons: “a critical shortage of drugs used for lethal injection, increasing public concern over judicial mistakes and the expense of capital cases, and a growing preference for life without parole.”

Some states, including Maryland, are abolishing the death penalty, while those that impose capital punishment have seen a decline in executions.

Even Texas, “long the nation’s leader in executions, provides strong evidence of a dwindling role for capital punishment. The state carried out 16 executions this year — still the most of any state, but far below the record 40 that it carried out in 2000.”

  • dudleysharp

    The Real Reasons Death Penalties/Executions Fell

    Dudley Sharp

    Nationally, from 1993 to 2012, murders dropped by 41%. Capital murders, the
    only ones eligible for the death penalty, likely, dropped in the 60-70% range,
    as capital murders are, most often, those combined with rape, robbery, or other
    crimes, which have dropped substantially, as well, explaining most of the

    Other reasons are:

    2) 5 states, with Democratic Governors and Democratic majority legislators,
    abolished the death penalty and

    3) a number of Supreme Court cases have restricted or delayed, even more,
    the application of the death penalty,

    with both since 1994 and both in conflict with the majority will of the
    people. (A state appellate court vacated New York’s death penalty

    Two of those states, Illinois and New Jersey, got the vote in during a lame
    duck session.

    4) DA’s are aware that some judges are, simply, obstructionists to the law,
    and those DA’s may be reluctant to seek it, as in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New
    Jersey, etc. In California, reform efforts are underway. (Ct & NJ repealed
    the death penalty).

    Those four, likely, account for 90% of the drop in death sentences.

    5) The decline in executions is, solely, the product of the case managers –
    the judges and has nothing to do with popular death penalty support (1).


    Richard Dieter states: “I think the decline begins with the revelations
    about mistakes in capital cases — that innocent people could get the penalty and
    almost be executed has shocked the public to the point where death sentences are
    harder to obtain,”.

    This is typical anti death penalty drivel, with no evidence to support

    A Nov. 2010 Angus Reid poll showed that a large majority, 81%, believes
    that innocents have been executed and, with that same group, responding to the
    “general” death penalty question, found 83% death penalty support and 13%
    opposition (2).

    That shows no evidence that the US population has turned away from
    executions based upon the, largely, misleading innocence claims by anti death
    penalty folks (3).

    Possibly 25-40 actual innocents have been sentenced to death and released
    since 1976. Not 143 (2). That is a 99.6% accuracy rate in convictions, with the
    0.4% innocent being released – a very admirable record, which would fuel

    There is no proof of an innocent executed in the US. at least since the

    The facts tell us that the death penalty is a greater protector of
    innocents, than is LWOP (3), a reality which would result in even more support
    for the death penalty.

    1) Judges Responsible for Grossly Uneven Executions

    2) US Death Penalty Support at 80% (now 86%): World Support Remains
    95% of Murder Victim’s Family Members Support Death Penalty

    3) The Innocent Frauds: Standard Anti Death Penalty Strategy

  • pbrower2a

    To have an ‘effective’ death penalty, states need to go barbarous. Most states have gone to lethal injection, so reverting to gassing or electrocution would be ‘cruel and unusual’. Hanging? Shooting? Easily botched.

    The death penalty just isn’t worth it in America. We are better off to reduce the robberies and drug trafficking.

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