Texas performed 45 percent of all the executions in the United States in 2006, according to the AP. Twenty-four condemned Texas killers were executed in 2006. There were 53 executions in the U.S. – seven fewer than 2005. The Texas total was up five from the previous year.

Even though Texas continues to set a blistering pace carrying out executions, the number of new death sentences imposed in Texas has dropped 65% over the last ten years, from 40 in fiscal 1996 to 14 in 2006, according to statistics compiled by the Texas Office of Court Administration. More from the AP:

Of the 38 states that allow capital punishment, only 14 carried out executions last year and just six of them conducted more than one.

Unlike Texas, where 379 inmates have been put to death since executions resumed in 1982, executions are on hold in at least 10 states where death penalty laws are under review, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, a Washington-based organization that opposes capital punishment and tracks the issue.

Two of those states, Illinois and New Jersey, have formal moratoriums. In the eight others — Arkansas, California, Delaware, Florida, Maryland, Missouri, Ohio and South Dakota — the lethal injection process is being challenged as cruel. Executions in New York are in limbo after the state’s death penalty law in 2004 was declared unconstitutional.

Carlos Granados is set to die Wednesday for the 1998 stabbing of a Anthony O’Brien Jimenez. Granados’ punishment would begin a series of five lethal injections over 20 days in Texas, site of the nation’s first lethal injection in 1982.

The four to follow this month include Johnathan Moore, convicted of killing a San Antonio police officer, and Ronald Chambers, a Dallas man who has been on death row about 31 years, longer than any of his fellow inmates in Texas. He is one of the longest-serving condemned inmates in the country.

At least two inmates have execution dates in February, three in March.

The 24 executions last year in Texas was about average for the past decade.

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