Death Penalty Opponents Are Winning “¦ Almost Everywhere

Two states accounted for more than half of all U.S. executions in 2013, a year in which capital punishment decreased across the country.

A view of the death chamber from the witness room at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, Ohio. 
National Journal
Dustin Volz
Dec. 19, 2013, 5:23 a.m.

Ex­e­cu­tions are on the de­cline across the United States — un­less you live in Texas or Flor­ida.

The U.S. put to death 39 people in 2013, just the second time in the past two dec­ades that num­ber has fallen be­low 40, ac­cord­ing to data com­piled by the Death Pen­alty In­form­a­tion Cen­ter. Ad­di­tion­ally, the num­ber of new death sen­tences is­sued in 2013 was near its low­est level since cap­it­al pun­ish­ment was re­in­stated in the 1970s.

Total ex­e­cu­tions fell by four over­all from last year, but the two states that car­ried out the most — Texas (16) and Flor­ida (7) — both in­creased their pace from 2012. To­geth­er, the two ac­coun­ted for 59 per­cent of all U.S. ex­e­cu­tions in 2013, al­though Texas car­ried out few­er than 10 death sen­tences for the sixth con­sec­ut­ive year — a stark con­trast to the 48 re­cor­ded in 1999.

The end-year re­port cites an on­go­ing short­age of leth­al-in­jec­tion drugs in sev­er­al states for 2013’s drop in ex­e­cu­tions. Cali­for­nia, North Car­o­lina, Arkan­sas, and Mary­land have not re­quired a death sen­tence in more than sev­en years “be­cause of their in­ab­il­ity to settle on a leth­al-in­jec­tion pro­tocol.” The re­port con­tin­ues:

In or­der to con­tin­ue ex­e­cu­tions, states such as Texas, Geor­gia, Mis­souri, and Ohio have turned to a con­tro­ver­sial source of ex­e­cu­tion drugs: com­pound­ing phar­ma­cies.”¦ To shield the sources of con­tro­ver­sial drugs from pub­lic scru­tiny, many states have re­sor­ted to secrecy, even de­clar­ing the com­pound­ing phar­ma­cies to be part of their an­onym­ous “ex­e­cu­tion team.” Such cen­sor­ship has at­trac­ted in­creas­ing ju­di­cial skep­ti­cism, with ex­e­cu­tions in Geor­gia and Flor­ida be­ing put on hold for ex­am­in­a­tion of the laws shield­ing makers of leth­al drugs.

The dif­fi­culty in pro­cur­ing ne­ces­sary drugs has also eli­cited vo­cal out­cry from law-en­force­ment of­fi­cials in some states where the death pen­alty is still on the books.

“Our sys­tem is com­pletely broken, and I don’t know how to say it more bluntly than that,” Arkan­sas At­tor­ney Gen­er­al Dustin McDaniel told Na­tion­al Journ­al in Oc­to­ber. “It’s a com­plete im­possib­il­ity. I can no more flap my arms and fly across the state than I can carry out an ex­e­cu­tion.”

Mary­land be­came the sixth state in six years to re­peal the death pen­alty, join­ing New Jer­sey, New York, New Mex­ico, Illinois, and Con­necti­c­ut. The re­port also high­lights find­ings that only 2 per­cent of U.S. counties have ac­coun­ted for more than half of all cases that lead to an ex­e­cu­tion since 1976.

What We're Following See More »
EpiPen Prices Draw Scrutiny from Congress
4 minutes ago

The cost of EpiPens have risen 400% since 2007, and members of Congress increasingly want to know why. Judiciary Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA) sent a letter to Mylan, which makes the allergy injection devices, on Monday. “Many of the children who are prescribed EpiPens are covered by Medicaid, and therefore, the taxpayers are picking up the tab for this medication," he wrote. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) "called earlier for a Judiciary Committee inquiry into the pricing and an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission."

U.S. May Aid Turkey in Fight Against ISIS
4 minutes ago

"The U.S. is considering providing military support for hundreds of Turkish-backed rebels massing at the border with Syria for a major offensive meant to sever Islamic State’s supply routes there, officials from both countries said." As Turkey looks to reestablish its military's credibility after the recent coup attempt there, the U.S. is considering providing intelligence and air support.

Trump Enriching His Businesses with Donor Money
14 hours ago

Donald Trump "nearly quintupled the monthly rent his presidential campaign pays for its headquarters at Trump Tower to $169,758 in July, when he was raising funds from donors, compared with March, when he was self-funding his campaign." A campaign spokesman "said the increased office space was needed to accommodate an anticipated increase in employees," but the campaign's paid staff has actually dipped by about 25 since March. The campaign has also paid his golf courses and restaurants about $260,000 since mid-May.

Trump Cancels Rallies
23 hours ago

Donald Trump probably isn't taking seriously John Oliver's suggestion that he quit the race. But he has canceled or rescheduled rallies amid questions over his stance on immigration. Trump rescheduled a speech on the topic that he was set to give later this week. Plus, he's also nixed planned rallies in Oregon and Las Vegas this month.

Sean Hannity Is Also Advising Trump
1 days ago

Donald Trump's Fox News brain trust keeps growing. After it was revealed that former Fox chief Roger Ailes is informally advising Trump on debate preparation, host Sean Hannity admitted over the weekend that he's also advising Trump on "strategy and messaging." He told the New York Times: “I’m not hiding the fact that I want Donald Trump to be the next president of the United States. I never claimed to be a journalist.”