The Death Penalty Is Totally Passe These Days, Group Finds

Harris County, you used to be cool. You sent more people to Death Row than most countries. And were damn proud of it, too.

Now, the death penalty is a forgotten memory of another time, the go-go `80s and `90s when brash prosecutors racked up executions like notches in a Wild West sheriff's gun.

The sudden unpopularity of capital punishment was highlighted today in a report released by the Death Penalty Information Center, which not only included poll data but stats on just how many executions have been carried out lately.

Texas, you had 29 percent fewer executions in 2010 than the year before.

"Whether it's concerns about the high costs of the death penalty at a time when budgets are being slashed, the risks of executing the innocent, unfairness, or other reasons, the nation continued to move away from the death penalty in 2010," said Richard Dieter, DPIC's Executive Director and the report's author.

We tend to think it's "concerns about the high costs of the death penalty." The costs for prosecuting those cases, and the attendant appeals process, have become high enough that DAs can sometimes feel it's just as well to put a bad guy in prison for life and spend the bucks elsewhere.

Quick quiz: How many states do you thing executed a prisoner in 2010? Wait for it....Only 12, "mostly in the south," the report states. And only seven of those states executed more than one person this year.

Overall, DPIC thinks there will be 114 executions in the U.S. this year, up only slightly from last year's 112, which was the lowest figure since capital punishment was reinstated in 1976.

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Richard Connelly
Contact: Richard Connelly