Thursday, September 18, 2008

Executions Drop to 13 Year Low

The Death Penalty Information Center, a Washington based group that is opposed to the death penalty, has released figures which show that forty-two people were put to death this year. This is the lowest number of executions since 1999 when 98 inmates were put to death. And the figures for next year are expected to drop even further. On January 7 the United States Supreme Court will hear oral arguments about whether the way lethal injections are administered in 36 of the 37 states that use the death penalty are constitutional or whether they violate the prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. The argument is that the mixture of chemicals used in lethal injection may cause excruciating pain to inmates who are unable to express their discomfort. If the Supreme Court finds lethal injection to be unconstitutional, it will take years before states can come up with procedures that would be acceptable. Also, stays of executions have been issued in several states pending a decision in this case. Even if the Supreme Court finds lethal injections to be constitutional, it will take months for new execution dates to be set in the cases where stays have been issued. There are no more executions scheduled in the United States this year.

The vast majority of executions were in the South with 86% of the executions. Texas leads the nation with 62% of the executions.

The number of executions have been declining in recent years. And there appears to be a movement to eliminate the death penalty altogether. Last week, New Jersey's legislature outlawed the death penalty and the Governor of New Jersey, John Corzine, signed the bill into law this past Monday. Similar bills in Nebraska, New Mexico and Montana were introduced in the state legislatures but failed. State legislators are considering submitting similar bills in Maryland, Colorado, North Carolina, Tennessee and California.

For more information about the Chicago criminal defense attorneys at Legal Defenders, P.C., visit us at or call us anytime at 1-800-228-7295.

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