More Americans Oppose The Death Penalty, So Why Are There So Many Executions?

A handful of states are at the root of the current trend. More Americans Oppose The Death Penalty, So Why Are There So Many Executions? Shutterstock

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Capital punishment remains one of the most divisive subjects in U.S. politics. The tide is turning in favor of those who want to abolish it, but across much of the country that shifting public sentiment hasn’t translated to policy changes.

A look at the numbers

While executions were down in recent years, the number has been creeping up in 2023. That is due in large part to the reversal of a three-year moratorium on capital punishment in Florida.

Here are some stats to put the trend in perspective:

  • There have been 24 executions this year, more than twice the 2021 total.
  • Six of those executions took place in Florida, the state’s highest since 2014.
  • Florida also sentenced five other people to death this year, the most of any state.
  • Last year, about 1 in 3 executions were “botched,” according to reports.
  • Nearly 80% of those executed this year had a disability or impairment.

Even among those who believe that the most severe crimes deserve capital punishment, there is growing concern about the possibility of wrongful conviction. And more than half of all states have either passed laws eradicating the death penalty or are currently operating under a pause implemented by the governor.

Bucking the trend

Florida is one notable exception to the overall shift away from the death penalty. In fact, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law that sets the loosest standard in the country for imposing capital punishment.

It currently only takes an 8 to 4 vote among jurors to recommend death as the punishment for applicable criminal convictions.

Texas is also responsible for much of the uptick, leading all other states in the number of executions — eight — conducted this year.

Only three other states (Alabama, Missouri, and Oklahoma) have conducted executions thus far in 2023.

Chris Agee
Chris Agee December 2nd, 2023
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