Death penalty ‘dying’ in the US

A death penalty protest near a prison in Terre Haute, Indiana, in 2020 (CNS/Bryan Woolston, Reuters)

Courts in large parts of the United States no longer impose death sentences or carry out executions, according to a report issued by the nation’s Death Penalty Information Centre. Source: Crux.

“The death penalty is eroding everywhere in the United States, even in places that are still seeking to carry out executions,” said Robert Dunham, the centre’s executive director, about The Death Penalty in 2021: Year-End Report.

“At the state level, the states are one at a time abolishing the death penalty. So this year Virginia abolished it. It was the first state in the South to do so. It was the state with the most executions to have ever done so, and it shows that even in previous strongholds of capital punishment, support is fading,” Mr Dunham said.

“We can look at it regionally as well. There is a death penalty-free zone from the Canadian border at Maine to the northern border of the Carolinas” along the Atlantic coast, he added.

“There is an execution-free zone that spans the length of America’s Pacific Coast” and includes Hawaii, he added.

“We see the death penalty disappearing altogether in some regions, receding in others and it remains concentrated in a few outlier jurisdictions, mainly in the Deep South, and in those jurisdictions, the death penalty is part of a legal culture that is inseparable from the legacy of slavery, lynching and Jim Crow.”

Krisanne Vaillancourt Murphy, executive director of the Catholic Mobilising Network, said: “The recent advances toward death penalty abolition far outweigh the backslides into executions we are seeing in outlier states and jurisdictions.

“Capital punishment is dying in the US and Catholics have renewed encouragement for the work that lies ahead.”


In wide swaths of US, death sentences, executions are no longer imposed (By Mark Pattison, CNS via Crux

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