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Capital Punishment in America: A Steady Decline — But Still a Long Way to Go (Inside NACDL)
By Norman L. Reimer
Inside NACDL columns.
America’s seemingly insatiable appetite for capital punishment, which is aberrational among western democracies and virtually all of Europe and the other nations of this hemisphere, is on the wane.1 A report released in December by the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC) provides impressive empirical evidence of the slow but steady progress toward an end to the barbaric practice.2 Executions and the number of states that permit capital punishment both declined, and while the number of new death sentences witnessed a very slight increase over 2012, they were still near their lowest level in 40 years.3
Executions dropped by about 10 percent from 2012, from 43 to 39, only the second time in nearly 20 years that the United States executed fewer than 40 individuals — a far cry from the high water mark of 98 in 1999.4 As of mid-December, when the DPIC report was issued, there were 80 new death sentences compared with the peak of 315 in 1994 and 1995.5 The death row populatio
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