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Reflections On The Death Penalty
By Barbara Bergman
President's Column columns.
As of January 23, 2006, this country has executed 1,006 people since the Supreme Court allowed the resumption of the death penalty in 1976. 1 Despite that horrific number, the Death Penalty Information Center’s 2005 “Year-End Report” reveals some hopeful changes. The 60 executions in 2005 were 39 percent below the peak of 98 in 1999. Even the death-happy state of Texas is making some progress. In 2005, it executed 19 people — well below its average of the past decade and fewer than half of the 40 people it put to death in 2000. The year ended with Virginia Governor Mark Warner commuting Robin Lovitt’s death sentence to life without parole. This left Virginia, the state with the second largest number of executions since 1976, with no executions in 2005.
Death sentences averaged about 300 a year nationally during the late 1990s. Since then, the number of death sentences imposed per year has dropped 55 percent, to 125 in 2004. The projection for 2005 is 96 sentences (based on data from th
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