Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Don't Mess With Texas (or New Jersey)

U.S. Disparity in Executions Grows as Texas Bucks Trend:

"This year’s death penalty bombshells — a de facto national moratorium, a state abolition and the smallest number of executions in more than a decade — have masked what may be the most significant and lasting development. For the first time in the modern history of the death penalty, more than 60 percent of all American executions took place in Texas.

"But enthusiasm for executions outside of Texas has dropped sharply. Of the 42 executions in the last year, 26 were in Texas. The remaining 16 were spread across nine other states, none of which executed more than three people. Many legal experts say the trend will probably continue.

"There do seem to be slight stirrings suggesting that other states might follow New Jersey [which abolished its death penalty statutes last week]. Two state legislative bodies — the House in New Mexico and the Senate in Montana — passed bills to abolish capital punishment, and in Nebraska, the unicameral legislature came within one vote of doing so."

There is also news that Maryland is considering abolition as well.

Geographically, most executions take place in the southern and western regions of the U.S. So while New Jersey's action (and Maryland's considering it) might seem good news for anti-death penalty advocates, the real evidence of a nationwide trend against capital punishment would come when a southern state decides to scrap it.

And that's unlikely anytime soon.

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