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U.S. Death Penalty Remains Near Record Low in 2012

Is the death penalty in decline even in the Deep South?

A new study shows that in 2012, no executions were carried out in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Missouri, Louisiana, or Georgia. And in Texas, the longtime death-penalty leader, the state killed fewer inmates—15—than it sentenced to death, continuing a trend that began eight years ago and indicating that fewer executions are on the horizon in the Lone Star State.

Overall, the Death Penalty Information Center study (PDF) found that 43 people were put to death in the United States this year, matching the total for 2011. But in 2012 only nine states executed inmates, down from 13 a year earlier.

Another positive sign for opponents of capital punishment: Connecticut became the fifth state in five years to abolish the death penalty. Seventeen states have gotten rid of capital punishment since it was reinstated in 1976.