For the first time in the modern history of the death penalty, more than 60 percent of all U.S. executions took place in Texas, says the New York Times. Enthusiasm for executions outside of Texas has dropped sharply. Of the 42 executions in the last year, 26 were in Texas. The remaining 16 were spread across nine other states. Legal experts say the trend will probably continue. David Dow, a law professor at the University of Houston who has represented death-row inmates, said the day is not far off when essentially all U.S. executions will take place in Texas.
Charles A. Rosenthal Jr., the district attorney of Harris County, Tx., which includes Houston and has accounted for 100 executions since 1976, said the Texas capital justice system was working properly. The rate at which Texas sentences people to death is not especially high given its murder rate. Outside of Texas, even supporters of the death penalty detect a change in public attitudes about executions in light of the time and expense of capital litigation, the possibility of wrongful convictions, and the remote chance that someone sent to death row will actually be executed. Said Joshua Marquis, district attorney in Clatsop County, Or., and a vice president of the National District Attorneys Association, “We're seeing fewer executions. We're seeing fewer people sentenced to death. People really do question capital punishment. The whole idea of exoneration has really penetrated popular culture.”