Fewer 2010 Death Sentences, Executions; Reasons Debated


The death penalty continued to be imposed and carried out in lower than usual numbers nationwide this year, reflecting continued controversy over claims of innocence, execution methods, and the costs of capital punishment, says a Death Penalty Information Center report quoted by the National Law Journal. The center opposes capital punishment.

Forty-six inmates were executed, down from 52 in 2009, but roughly in the same range as the past five years. (Mississippi plans a Dec. 29 execution, which may be delayed.) New death sentences nationwide totaled 114 in 2010, about half as many as were meted out 10 years ago. In death penalty states like Virginia, Georgia, Missouri, and Indiana, no new death sentences were imposed. Kent Scheidegger of the Sacramento.-based Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, which supports capital punishment, contended that, “the decline in death sentences is the result of two factors: decline in the number of murders, and greater selectivity in seeking and imposing the death penalty.”

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