Death sentences hit 29-year low Bernard Hibbitts at 8:31 AM ET
[JURIST] The number of death sentences handed down in 2004 was the lowest since 1976, according to new statistics released by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund [advocacy website]. A total of 125 people were sentenced to death by US courts in 2004, down from 144 in 2003, and 300 in 1998. Texas mandated the death penalty in the most cases in 2004 - 23 - with California (11), Florida and Alabama in train (8 each). Observers variously attribute the decline in nationwide death sentences to increasing recognition of the fallacy of the conviction process in light of DNA evidence, an overall decline in the national murder rate, and the Supreme Court's reclassification of which killers are in fact eligible for death. AP has more. There are currently 3455 people on death row in the United States [NAACP statistics, PDF] of whom 41.9% of which are black.
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