Texas Again Leads Nation in Executions; Ohio a Distant Second
By John Gramlich, Staff Writer
In 2010, only seven states - Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas and Virginia — executed more than one prisoner, the report finds. Of those seven states, Texas was far and away the most active, executing 17 inmates in 2010, compared with eight for Ohio, the second-busiest state. Alabama was third with five executions.
Nationally, 46 prisoners were executed this year, a 12-percent drop from the 52 who were executed last year. Ten years ago, 85 executions took place nationally. Death sentences, too, have seen a sharp decline over the last decade, with 114 people sentenced to die this year, compared with more than twice as many - 234 - in 2000.
The reasons behind the decline in death sentences and executions are a point of debate. According to the Death Penalty Information Center's new report, capital punishment "continued to be mired in conflict in 2010, as states grappled with an ongoing controversy over lethal injections, the high cost of capital punishment, and increasing public sentiment in favor of alternative sentences."
But the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, a victims' rights group in Sacramento, California, notes that the number of executions this year - 46 - is the exact average of executions nationally over the last four years, not the sharp decline that the Death Penalty Information Center portrays. The group also says the declining number of death sentences is a reflection not of juries' uneasiness with the death penalty, but simply a decline in murders.