From the blog " Capital Defense Weekly"
For instance, the group estimated at 110 the number of death sentences imposed in 2007, the fewest since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976. It is the latest in a series of what Dieter called “historic lows,” since the number of death sentences peaked in 1999 at 277.
A reassessment of the efficiency of capital punishment also is underway across the country. This week, New Jersey became the first state to abolish the death penalty in more than 40 years. The eight men on death row saw their sentences commuted to life in prison without parole. There had not been an execution in the state since 1963.
Legislatures in five states, including Maryland, have looked closely at whether they should abandon capital punishment in favor of sentences of life without parole. New York’s legislature has failed to reimpose the death penalty after its law was found unconstitutional.
The report showed that the death penalty has become a regional phenomenon. Nearly 9o percent of the executions this year were carried out in the South — 26 of the 42 in Texas alone. But even some states that are among the leaders in capital punishment, such as Virginia and Florida, had no executions in 2007.
There are now about 3,350 death row inmates across the country, according to the Death Penalty Information Center’s estimates. The largest number of executions since capital punishment was reinstated in 1976 was 98, in 1999.