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Use Of Death Penalty Continues Its Decline In The United States

The death chamber of the lethal injection facility at San Quentin State Prison in San Quentin, Calif. i

The death chamber of the lethal injection facility at San Quentin State Prison in San Quentin, Calif. Eric Risberg/AP hide caption

toggle caption Eric Risberg/AP
The death chamber of the lethal injection facility at San Quentin State Prison in San Quentin, Calif.

The death chamber of the lethal injection facility at San Quentin State Prison in San Quentin, Calif.

Eric Risberg/AP

The death penalty is in decline no matter the measure, a new study released by the Death Penalty Information Center has found.

The report found that 28 people were executed this year, the lowest since 1991. The number of death sentences dropped by 33 percent.

Only six states executed convicts during the year, and Texas, Missouri and Georgia accounted for 86 percent of the executions.

The death penalty started falling out of favor in the 1990s. This past decade is now comparable to the one that preceded a 1972 Supreme Court decision that put capital punishment on hold.

"The use of the death penalty is becoming increasingly rare and increasingly isolated in the United States," Robert Dunham, DPIC's executive director, said in a statement. "These are not just annual blips in statistics, but reflect a broad change in attitudes about capital punishment across the country."

To that point, the decline also coincides with a shift in public opinion.

If you look at Gallup's historical data, 80 percent of Americans said they supported the death penalty in 1994. That number declined to 61 percent in Gallup's last poll, in October of this year.

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