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.”