Wednesday, December 26
There may not have been an awful lot of good news in America in 2007, but the year-end report by the Death Penalty Information Center certainly offered some last-minute good cheer. The number of executions dropped to a 13-year low in 2007, and with momentum building against the death penalty, we hope that trend will continue in 2008.

Forty-two convicts were executed in 2007, and it is significant that they all came in just 10 states, most of them in the South. More than half of that total of 42 — 26 to be precise — came in Texas, where the former born-again governor, George W. Bush, set the trend by bragging about the number of state-sanctioned killings his state was responsible for. Happily, most states have seen the light.

The most recent was New Jersey, which on December 17 abolished the death penalty, replacing it with life without parole. Among those testifying for abolition at legislative hearings was Vicki Schieber, whose daughter, Shannon, was murdered in 1988. She pointed out that the lengthy appeal process for death row convicts so drags out the legal process that victim's families are unable to achieve any form of closure, while a quick

sentence of life without parole enables those families to move ahead with their lives.

Improvements in DNA testing have rescued many innocent men from death row in recent years, and two convicts, one in Ohio, the other in North Carolina, had their death sentences overturned this month either because of new evidence that had come to light or the determination that they were victims of poor defense work. They are still alive to rebuild their lives. A moratorium was declared on 40 death penalty cases when the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to decide if lethal injection constituted cruel and inhuman punishment. We hope the Court decides that it does, but regardless of its