The population of Texas’ death row is at its lowest points in more than 20 years, and the number of new death sentences, though slightly up in 2012, continues a downward trend even in the nation’s busiest death penalty state, reports the Texas Tribune. A report released Wednesday by the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty said Texas reflects a national trend. The state has seen a 75 percent drop in death sentences since 2002. The state’s death row population is 289, smallest since 1989.
Juries in the state issued nine new death sentences in 2012, a slight increase from the number issued in each of the two previous years. But the distribution of new death sentences is uneven, the coalition reported. For the third time in five years, there were no new death sentences out of Houston’s Harris County, which once sent more people to death row than any other Texas county. Meanwhile, the Dallas-Fort Worth area accounted for four of the new death sentences in 2012, and Dallas County alone contributed nearly 20 percent of death sentences in the last five years, according to the report. Dallas County also led the state in executions: Five of the 15 Texans executed in 2012 were from there. “While most of Texas is moving away from the death penalty, the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex was a major outlier both in new death sentences and executions this year,” said Kristin Houlé, executive director of the coalition.