Skip to main content
University of Wisconsin–Madison

Death Penalty Numbers Continue To Fall In 2015

Nina Totenberg, NPR’s legal affairs corespondent, recently investigated why the death penalty is becoming less common in the United States in the story “Why has the death penalty grown increasingly rare?” So far in 2015 only 27 executions have occurred which is the lowest number in 25 years.

What she found is that many judges are not handing out death penalty sentences, too many cases of death row inmates are found to be flawed, and the resources for execution are not as readily available as people might think.

According to information from the Death Penalty Information Center, all the death penalties this year came from only 21 counties, which is less than 1% of the counties in the country.

Former attorney general of Virginia, conservative Republican Mark Earley, presided over 36 executions between 1998-2001. Having been a part of those executions and working as a part of the criminal justice system he no longer believes the death penalty is justified. He said: “We get it wrong sometimes, and in the death penalty, we just can’t get it wrong.” He is referring to the high number of 156 death penalty inmates who have been exonerated.

Totenberg also showed a side to the death penalty that is often left out: the drug companies. Drug companies don’t morally or economically want to be involved with the death penalty. This makes it difficult for states to actually get the drugs needed for lethal injection.

To read the full article “Why has the death penalty grown increasingly rare?” click here.

To visit the Death Penalty Information Center click here.