There has been a huge decline in the use of the death penalty in the United States in 2016

30 death sentences were imposed this year

There has been a huge decline in the use of the death penalty in the United States in 2016

The death chamber of the a lethal injection facility at San Quentin State Prison in San Quentin, California. Image: Eric Risberg AP/Press Association Images

There has been a huge decline in the use of the death penalty in the United States in 2016 and the 30 death sentences imposed this year are the fewest in the modern era of capital punishment in the country.

Robert Dunham, the Death Penalty Information Center's (DPIC) Executive Director and the author of the report said: “America is in the midst of a major climate change concerning capital punishment. While there may be fits and starts and occasional steps backward, the long-term trend remains clear.

“Whether it’s concerns about innocence, costs, and discrimination, availability of life without parole as a safe alternative, or the questionable way in which states are attempting to carry out executions, the public grows increasingly uncomfortable with the death penalty each year,” he added. 

Figures show that 20 people were executed in 2016 which is the fewest executions since 1991. Both death sentences and executions were increasingly geographically isolated with two states: Georgia and Texas, accounting for 80% of executions.  More than half of all death sentences were imposed in just three states: California, Ohio, and Texas.