US Catholic Faith in Real Life

The death penalty—A 2013 recap

By Caitlyn Schmid | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

This morning, the Death Penalty Information Center, a private group in Washington which opposes the death penalty, released its annual report regarding statistics for 2013. There is good news! According to the report, the number of executions, the number of states that allow executions, and public support for capital punishment have all decreased this year.

This past year, 39 inmates from around the country were executed by lethal injection—a 10 percent decrease from 2012. This is only the second time in nearly two decades that the number of executions has dropped below 40. Compare this to the 315 executions in 1994 and you can see the positive progress that has been made.

Of the 32 states where capital punishment is legal, only nine of them conducted lethal injection this past year. Two of those states—Texas and Florida—accounted for almost 60 percent of them. In early May, Maryland became the sixth state to abolish the death penalty in the last six years (which the USCCB applauded). Small victories, but every step helps.

With pharmaceutical companies (both American and European) opposing their drugs being used as a means for the death penalty, life in prison without parole being favored, and unregulated drugs being used (which has led to some excruciatingly painful examples of lethal injections), public support for capital punishment has also decreased. The annual Gallup poll resulted in only 60 percent of those surveyed supporting the death penalty—the lowest level it has been at in 40 years.

Although this was a year filled with good news, we still have much work to do. Thirty-nine inmates is still 39 executions too many. Thirty-two states in favor of capital punishment is still 32 too many. Sixty percent of Americans in favor is still 60 percent too much. Human life is sacred and each human—even those who have trespassed against us—deserves compassion, dignity, and forgiveness.

Image: Wikimedia Commons cc by CACorrections