Executions Slowed in 2008, But Numbers May Increase in Coming Year

The Death Penalty Information Center's Year End Report for 2008 recorded 37 executions for the year that ends today.  That is a 12% drop from the 42 executions in 2007.  However, based on executions already scheduled for 2009, the coming year may see an increase.  There are 23 executions scheduled for the first five months of 2009, and more dates are likely to be added.  As was true in 2008, almost all the executions scheduled are in the south and about half (12 of 23) are in Texas.  Although the time between sentencing and execution has grown longer, the size of death row has remained relatively stable and many inmates are running out of appeals.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) reported that the average time between sentencing and execution for those executed in 2007 (latest figures available) was 12.7 years, the longest for any year since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976.  The average time between sentencing and execution for all executions carried out since 1976 was about 10.5 years.  At the start of 2008, there were 3,309 people on death row, a decline of just over 1% from a year ago. BJS reported 115 death sentences in 2007, the lowest number for any year since 1976.  DPIC's projections indicate a similar number of death sentences  for 2008.

(Posted Dec. 31, 2008). See Time on Death Row and DPIC's 2008 Year End Report.