Today the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC), a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C., issued its annual end of the year report on capital punishment. The report is chock-full of data about executions, court decisions and death sentences to name a few.
The big story this year was Virginia’s abolition of the death penalty. Virginia is the first southern state to abolish the death penalty. The decision by the Commonwealth of Virginia is significant. At one point during the modern era of the death penalty only Texas was executing more people that Virginia.
Now that Virginia is in the death penalty abolishment column, a majority of states have now abolished the death penalty (23) or have a formal moratorium on its use—Pennsylvania, Oregon and California—an additional ten states have not carried out an execution in at least ten years. According to DPIC, bipartisan legislation to repeal the death penalty is moving through the Ohio and Utah legislatures.
The dearth of executions in 2021 is the first thing that people point to when discussing the death penalty. There were only 11 execution carried out this year—the fewest executions in this country since 1984.
Only five states and the federal government carried out executions in 2021. Texas and the federal government each executed three people. Oklahoma executed two. Three states – Alabama, Mississippi, and Missouri – each executed one person.
More telling is that nationwide only 18 death sentences were imposed in seven states in 2021. Oklahoma and Alabama each imposed four new death sentences. California and Texas handed down three. Florida imposed two new death sentences, while Nebraska and Tennessee each imposed one. Only two counties — Los Angeles County, California and Oklahoma County, Oklahoma — imposed more than one death sentence, with each imposing two.
To read the Report CLICK HERE