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Texas is Responsible for 41 Percent of Executions in the U.S.

by: Emily Cadik

Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 01:00 PM CST

A year-end report from the Death Penalty Information Center shows that the number of executions in the U.S. dropped by 10 percent in this year, from 43 to 39. But of the 39 executions carried out, 16 of them were in Texas.

Despite its disproportionate share of executions, and the fact that Texas actually executed one more person in 2013 than in 2012, the number of death sentences in Texas has declined significantly in recent years. This is the sixth year in a row that Texas sentenced fewer than 10 new people to death - a stark contrast to 1999, for instance, when Texas sentenced 48 people. Though there are still 298 people on death row in Texas, that's an 80 percent drop in just fifteen years.

Read about the reasons for the decline after the jump.

Reasons for the nationwide decline in executions include an increase in the number of stays given to death penalty cases (33 in the past year), a reduction in new death sentences, an increase in the number of states who have completely abolished the death penalty, and the fact that public support for the death penalty has reached its lowest level in 40 years. But even more influential in the past year has been a shortage of lethal injection chemicals. The drugs are manufactured in Europe, where opposition to their use for executions has resulted in a ban on their export for this purpose. Even states wishing to move forward with executions are thus faced with inconsistent options in terms of acceptable execution methods and protocols.  

According to Richard Dieter, the Executive Director of the Death Penalty Information Center, "Twenty years ago, use of the death penalty was increasing. Now it is declining by almost every measure. The recurrent problems of the death penalty have made its application rare, isolated, and often delayed for decades. More states will likely reconsider the wisdom of retaining this expensive and ineffectual practice."

These factors don't change the fact that there are over 3,100 people on death row in the U.S. But if current trends continue, many of these death sentences will in effect become life sentences.  

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