Report: Number of executions continued to drop in 2015

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)

Fewer states are executing fewer people combined in 2015, continuing a national trend away from capital punishment, the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC) said in a new report.

Six states executed a total of 28 inmates this year, down from 35 a year ago and the lowest number since 1991, according to DPIC. This year also marked the first time in 24 years the number of executions dipped below 30.

With 13, Texas led the way in executions, followed by Missouri with six and Georgia with five. Florida, Oklahoma and Virginia also executed inmates.

“The use of the death penalty is becoming increasingly rare and increasingly isolated in the United States,” Robert Dunham, DPIC’s executive director and the author of the report, said in a news release. “These are not just annual blips in statistics, but reflect a broad change in attitudes about capital punishment across the country.”

A total of 2,984 inmates were on on death rows nationwide as of July 1, a population that has decreased every year since 2001. Other key findings from the report:

  • At least 70 death row prisoners with execution dates in 2015 a received stay, reprieve or commutation, 2.5 times the number of people who were executed
  • Six former death row prisoners were exonerated in 2015
  • 49 new death sentences were handed down in 2015
  • 18 death penalty states did not impose a death sentence in 2015
  • Riverside, Calif., handed down 16 percent of all death sentences issued nationwide in 2015

For more information, visit deathpenaltyinfo.org.

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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.