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Report: New Low for Death Sentences and Executions

February 7, 2012

BISMARCK, N.D. - A nonprofit clearinghouse for information about capital punishment finds that the use of the death penalty in the U.S. continued to decline in 2011. Richard Dieter with the Death Penalty Information Center says the number of new death sentences nationwide dropped to the lowest number since capital punishment was reinstated nationally in 1976.

He says it's part of a decade-long trend.

"Executions dropped. Public support for the death penalty in the Gallup Poll dropped, and the number of states with the death penalty declined."

Dieter says fiscal concerns are the leading reason why states are scrutinizing death-penalty laws.

"Most states have no executions in a given year, and if you're not using it and it's costing you a lot, that's one more reason to reconsider the death penalty. And, I think we'll see some states doing exactly that."

North Dakota carried out only eight executions before the state abolished the death penalty in 1973.

In the last four years, four states have repealed the death penalty: New York, New Jersey, New Mexico and Illinois.

The report is at www.deathpenaltyinfo.org. More information on the death penalty in Minnesota is at deathpenaltyinfo.org

John Michaelson, Public News Service - ND