Nine states carried out executions during 2012, according to a new report released today by the Death Penalty Information Center, a nonprofit organization that lobbies against capital punishment.
Texas (15 executions), Arizona (6 executions), Oklahoma (6 executions), Mississippi (6 executions), Ohio (3 executions), Florida (3 executions), South Dakota (2 executions), Delaware (1 execution) and Idaho (1 execution), were among the nine states, according to the DPIC report.
“The number of executions in 2012 (43) was 56 percent less than the peak in 1999 and equal to last year’s total. The number of new death sentences in 2012 was the second lowest since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976. Seventy-eight people were sentenced to death in 2012, representing a 75 percent decline since 1996 when there were 315 sentences,” according to the report.
More than half of states either have no death penalty or have not carried out an execution in five years or more.
In November, 52 percent of voters who went to the polls in California turned down Prop. 34 -- a measure to repeal the state’s death penalty. During campaigning, proponents argued Prop. 34 would have saved taxpayer dollars if passed; opponents said the initiative would cost the state.
Among those who filed an argument against Prop. 34 were former California Governor Peter Wilson; Marc Klaas, father of 12-year-old murder victim Polly Klaas; and Keith Royal, president of the California State Sheriffs’ Association.
Although capital punishment is still handed out in California, the state has not carried out an execution in nearly seven years due to legal challenges, including arguments over whether lethal injection constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.
“Capital punishment is becoming marginalized and meaningless in most of the country,” said Richard Dieter, DPIC’s executive director and the author of the new report. “In 2012, fewer states have the death penalty, fewer carried out executions, and death sentences and executions were clustered in a small number of states. It is very likely that more states will take up the question of death penalty repeal in the years ahead.”