The Supreme Court, voting 6 to 3, ordered a lower court review of an appeal by Georgia death row inmate Keith Tharpe because a juror said Tharpe “wasn’t in the ‘good’ black folks category in my book, should get the electric chair for what he did.” Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch said the review was unwarranted and “callously delays justice” for the victim.
Nationwide, there were 39 death sentences issued in 2017, and 31 percent of those came from just three counties: Riverside County, Ca.; Clark County, Nv.; and Maricopa County, Az., reports the Death Penalty Information Center.
No one from Harris County, Texas, was executed in 2017–for the first time in more than 40 years. And no one has been sentenced to death for a crime committed there since 2014. Experts see those numbers as a reflection of declining American enthusiasm for capital punishment.
Nearly three out of four death dates scheduled nationwide in 2017 were cancelled, after courts and governors intervened in 58 executions. While executions have declined, nearly a third of the year’s 23 executions took place in Texas.
The trial of Esteban Santiago, who is accused of fatally shooting five people and wounding six at Fort Lauderdale’s airport, has been postponed until at least June as prosecutors decide whether to seek the death penalty. Attorney General Jeff Sessions will make the final decision.
With executions and death sentences at near-historic low levels so far this year, the U.S. is witnessing a “long-term change in capital punishment,” according to a report released Thursday by the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC).