Within Louisiana, where capital punishment has declined steeply, Caddo Parish, in the northwestern corner of the state, has become an outlier, accounting for fewer than 5 percent of the state's death sentences in the early 1980s but nearly half over the past five years, reports the New York Times. From 2010 to 2014, more people were sentenced to death per capita in Caddo Parish than in any other county in the U.S., among counties with four or more death sentences in that time period.
Robert Smith, a law professor at the University of North Carolina, said Caddo illustrated the geographic disparity of capital punishment. He said Caddo has bucked the national trend in large part because of one man: Dale Cox, 67, the acting district attorney, who has obtained more than a third of Louisiana's death sentences over the last five years. Cox has become one of the bluntest spokesmen for the death penalty. He has accepted invitations from reporters to explain whether he really meant what he said in March to the Shreveport Times: that capital punishment is primarily and rightly about revenge and that the state needs to “kill more people.” Yes, he meant it. The number of murders in Shreveport has decreased by 67 percent since the early 1990s. Cox insisted that if the numbers were down, the nature of crimes had become more depraved and that it demanded a different approach.