So much of our news these days involves reporting on declines. In the political sphere, the rational dialogue has certainly experienced a dramatic decline. Jobs have declined dramatically over the last couple of years but at least now they have been stabilizing and we are experiencing a slight increase. Parishes and schools are experiencing declines because of mergers or demographic changes in neighborhoods. I just spotted one decline the other day that I really like.
In its annual year-end study, the Death Penalty Information Center reported that death sentences and executions in the United States were down in 2011 and support for capital punishment continues to drop steadily. In 2011, 70 people were executed in the country. That is the first time since 1976 that death penalty and new sentences fell below 100. In 2010, the figure stood at 112.
Our legal system killed 43 people last year, down from 46 in 2010 and a decrease of 56% from 1999 when a peak of 98 people were executed. Needless to say, 32 of the 43 executions this year occurred in the South. I am a Southerner. I was born and raised in the South and spent the great majority of my life in Texas. However, I know the history of our region; a history of cruelty and brutality from which we are not completely free. Our attitude towards executing people is an example of that.
Let’s hope and pray that reasonable and thoughtful people will continue to work together to lessen and eventually eliminate death penalty convictions and their ultimate results.