So says the Arkansas Coalition Against the Death Penalty. Even Texas killed fewer people in 2010. Because of a variety of legal challenges, including arguments related to the types of chemicals used in the lethal injection, no one has been executed in Arkansas since 2005. So I'm not sure a decline is wholly related to changing attitudes, though many are growing more in favor of abolition on account of the higher cost of the death penalty and the lack of corrective for executions of innocent people.
The coalition offers the following:
A new report says clearly that the death penalty is on the decline in the U.S. The nation is ending the year with significantly fewer executions and death sentences than last year, according to the 2010 Year End Report by the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC). Executions dropped by 12% compared with 2009, and by more than 50 percent since 1999. Texas, generally the nation’s leader in executions, experienced a 29% drop in executions this year.
The economic recession was a significant factor in the decline as states were forced to make budget cuts in essential areas such as education and law enforcement in order to maintain capital punishment. Eleven states determined that the death penalty is an unworkable and unnecessary drain on their funds in 2009 and considered repealing it. Three states—New York, New Jersey and New Mexico — have recently abolished the death penalty altogether.
In addition, nine people were exonerated from death row in 2009, the second highest number of exonerees since reinstatement of capital punishment. The total number of exonerees since 1973 is now at 139.
“The DPIC report underscores the fact that the death penalty is an ineffective crime prevention tool, that it costs too much for states to implement it, and that it has too many inherent risks for convicting and executing innocent people” says Christian Ruud, executive director of the Arkansas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. “Arkansas should get rid of the death penalty, adopt alternative punishments for violent crime, and fund more effective crime prevention programs that protect our communities and keep them safe.”
The DPIC 2010 Year End Report is available online at http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org.