Good News: support for the death penalty continues to decline
This being the first show of 2017, we are going to spend most it engaging in one of those "a look back at the past year" deals. But before we get to that, I'm quickly going to run through some bits of Good News - both because we always like to start the show that way and because after a lot of us were glad to see 2016 go, I thought we'd try to get 2017 off to a good start.
One piece of Good News is that both use of and support for the death penalty continue to decline. In 2016, a total of 20 inmates were executed. That's the fewest since 1991 and just five states – Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Missouri and Texas – accounted for all those sanctioned murders.
What's more, the number of death sentences imposed by the courts in 2016 also declined substantially. The year there were 30 death sentences, down from the modern peak of 315 in 1996.
A plurality of Americans still support the death penalty; it's 49 in favor and 42 opposed. However, that's the lowest support in over 40 years and support dropped seven percentage points between mid-2015 and late 2016.
That is a trend I hope will continue this year.