Executions, death sentences declined in 2004, government reports

Monday, November 14th 2005, 10:09 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The number of executions and the number of death sentences in the US are declining.

Figures released by the Justice Department show a dozen states executed 59 prisoners last year, including six in Oklahoma.

There have been four executions carried out in Oklahoma this year.

The 59 put to death nationwide is six fewer than in 2003. And the number of prisoners added to death row increased by 125, the smallest addition since 1973.

One of the report's authors says the number of prisoners under death sentences has gone down four years in a row. Tracy Snell says it's the result of a murder rate now at its lowest level in 40 years.

A death penalty supporter says the threat of harsh punishment is responsible for the falling murder rate, but a capital punishment opponent says jurors are increasingly reluctant to recommend the death penalty.