Death Penalty Hit Near-Historic Low in 2018: Report

Fewer than 30 prisoners were executed in 2018, marking the fourth year that the controversial practice has hit a near-historic low, according to a Friday report from the Death Penalty Information Center. In the past year, only 25 inmates on death row were executed, and only 42 were sentenced. The deaths were concentrated in just eight states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Nebraska, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Texas. Texas accounted for 13 of those 25 deaths. The sentences were concentrated in only 14 states, led by Texas and Florida, which each had seven. The report notes that for the first time in the death penalty’s modern history, no county imposed more than one death sentence. And this October, Washington became the 20th state to abolish the practice entirely.

“America continued its long-term movement away from the death penalty in 2018,” said Robert Dunham, DPIC’s executive director. “Even in the face of inflammatory political rhetoric urging its expanded use, voters showed that the death penalty is no longer a political wedge issue. The reelection of governors who imposed death penalty moratoria, the replacement of hardline pro-death-penalty prosecutors with reformers, and Washington’s court decision striking down its death penalty suggest that we will see even greater erosion of the death penalty in the years ahead.”