Utility Menu

YOUR VIEW: Use of death penalty drops, but not in Alabama

YOUR VIEW: Use of death penalty drops, but not in Alabama
Published: Monday, December 19, 2011, 5:43 AM     Updated: Monday, December 19, 2011, 11:19 AM
 By Letters from our readers The Birmingham News
 
In the Death Penalty Information Center's Year End Report, we see that across the nation this year, the use of the death penalty continued to decline by almost every measure. Executions, death sentences, public support and the number of states with the death penalty all dropped from previous years. But Alabama bucked the tide and was ranked No. 2, after Texas, with six executions.



Nationwide, death sentences dropped to 78 in 2011. This is the first time since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment in 1976 that the courts have imposed fewer than 100 death sentences in a given year, according to the Death Penalty Information Center's Year End Report. Death sentences have declined about 75 percent since 1996, when 315 individuals were sentenced to death. Not in Alabama.



Executions were also down around the country, with 43 in 2011 and 46 in 2010, representing a 56 percent drop since 1999, when there were 98. But not in Alabama.



Even Texas experienced a 46 percent decline in executions over the past two years. The Lone Star State carried out 13 executions in 2011 and 24 in 2009. In the same period, Alabama's execution rate increased.



There are many reasons for the drop in death sentences and executions. Growing numbers of Americans, like increasing numbers of Alabamians, are concerned the death penalty is applied unfairly, that innocent people have been and could be executed, and that it discriminates against minorities and the poor.



Given the shifts in public opinion, it is little surprise that politicians in other states are following the will of the people.



Alabama should stop and listen. I am very tired of saying "and then there is Alabama."



Esther Brown



Executive director, Project Hope to Abolish the Death Penalty



Lanett


© 2011 al.com. All rights reserved.