Washington Texas and other states that lead the nation in executions are sentencing many fewer inmates to death, a trend that slowly is reducing the death row population in the United States, a report from an anti-capital punishment group says.
There were 106 death sentences imposed in 2009, the Death Penalty Information Center estimated in its annual report released today. That number is the smallest since capital punishment was reinstated in 1976 and compares with an annual average of 295 death sentences during the 1990s.
Fifty-two people were put to death in 11 states this year, nearly half as many executions as 10 years ago.
The center, which opposes capital punishment, attributes the drop in both executions and new death sentences to fears of executing the innocent, concerns about the high cost of the death penalty and laws that allow inmates to be sentenced to life in prison without parole.