NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


December 11, 2006

Fewer prison inmates were moved to death row in 2005, according to a federal study that says only one more person was executed last year than in the previous year.

Among the findings by the Justice Department:

  • Four states -- California, Texas, Florida and Pennsylvania -- held half of the 3,254 inmates awaiting execution in state and federal prisons at the end of last year.
  • In 2005, some 128 inmates were moved to death row, the third consecutive year with a decline in year-long totals; it was the lowest number of prisoners put on death row since 1973.
  • At the end of 2005, some 66 fewer inmates were on death row than in 2004, a decrease for the fifth straight year and about a 10 percent drop since Dec. 31, 2000, when there were 3,601 death row prisoners nationwide.
  • Overall, sixteen states executed a total of 60 prisoners last year, one more inmate than in 2004; however, the number of inmates on death row on Dec. 31, 2005, and the number of inmates moved there throughout the year, dipped.

Many attribute the rise in DNA testing, questions about the effectiveness of public, among others, as main reasons for the overall drop.

Source: Editorial, "Fewer death row inmates for 5th straight year," USA Today, December 11, 2006.

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