International Coverage of Death Penalty Decline Rates in Texas

With the Supreme Court stay of Hank Skinner’s execution on March 24, 2010 much attention has been drawn to the capital punishment system in Texas and recent trends which may suggest a slow death of the institution. An article by BBC News “Is the death penalty on death row?” (March 30, 2010) cites the steady decline in new death sentences handed down in Texas courts as reason to believe that the death penalty in Texas has fundamentally moved to a less “death” oriented system.

The article draws attention to the recent trends in new death sentences, nine new death row sentences in 2009 compared to forty-eight new sentences in the late 1990s. Cost, the 2005 law providing capital punishment cases with the option of life in prison without parole, and changing demographics in the state that lean toward a more anti-death penalty stance are all cited in the article as major contributory factors to a criminal justice system that is arguably making strides toward abolition. As the article states, “In this less homogenous environment, the old certainties are being more widely questioned.”
To view the entire BBC News article click here.