Number of executions declines in 2014, new report shows

A gurney in the San Quentin State Prison in the United States on which prisoners are restrained during an execution by lethal injection. (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation via Wikipedia/Public Domain)

ATLANTA — The 35 people put to death in 2014 represents the lowest number of executions since 1994, according to a new report from the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC). And the 72 new death sentences doled out this year is the lowest in the so-called “modern era,” dating to 1974, the report suggests.

The states of Missouri, Texas and Floria accounted for 28 — or 80 percent — of the death sentences carried out during the year. Only four other states — Oklahoma, Georgia, Arizona and Ohio
— executed someone in 2014, the report indicates.

The number of executions peaked in 1999 when 98 people were put to death. The high water mark for death sentences handed down was 1996, when 315 people were sentenced to death.

“The relevancy of the death penalty in our criminal justice system is seriously in question when 43 out of our 50 states do not apply the ultimate sanction,” DPIC Executive Director Richard Dieter said in a news release. “The U.S. will likely continue with some executions in the years ahead, but the rationale for such sporadic use is far from clear.”

Other findings in the report:

  • The 35 executions in 2014 was down from 39 a year earlier
  • The number of people put to death has declined in 11 of the past 15 years
  • Seven death row inmates were exonerated in 2014, the most since 2009
  • The DPIC reported botched executions in Ohio, Arizona and Oklahoma in 2014
  • Texas executed 48 people in 1999, but put only 10 people to death this year
  • There were 3,670 death row inmates in 2000 and there are today 3,035 people on death row nationwide; that number has decreased every year since 2001

To read the full report, visit www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/YearEnd2014.

About the author

Todd DeFeo

Todd DeFeo loves to travel anywhere, anytime, taking pictures and notes. An award-winning reporter, Todd revels in the experience and the fact that every place has a story to tell. He is owner of The DeFeo Groupe and also edits The Travel Trolley and Railfanning.org.