The Death Penalty Information Center has issued its 2008 Year End Report on the Death Penalty.

Highlights from the Report

Decline in the Number of Executions and Death Sentences

  • 37 executions took place in 2008, marking a 14-year low and continuing a downward trend that began in 2000.
  • 95% of all executions occurred in the South in 2008; 49% were in one state – Texas.
  • The annual number of death sentences has dropped by 60% since the 1990s.

Innocence and Clemency

  • Four death row inmates were exonerated and four had their sentences commuted to life in prison without parole during the course of this year. The total number of exonerations since 1973 is 130.

Costs of the Death Penalty

  • A California commission reported that the state is spending $138 million per year on a death penalty system that they described as “broken” and “close to collapse.”
  • A study in Maryland indicated that the state had spent $37 million for each execution when all the costs of the death penalty were included.
  • With the average time spent on death row increasing to 12.7 years in 2007, death penalty cases continue to place a significant financial burden on state budgets.
  • State supreme courts in Utah and New Mexico have warned that the death penalty would be stopped unless more funding is provided for indigent defense.

Expansion of the Death Penalty Denied

  • In June, the Supreme Court rejected the expansion of the death penalty to non-homicide crimes against individuals in Kennedy v. Louisiana.

To read the complete report, click here.

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