published: 1 September 2016
It’s been 148 days since Texas executed someone—a remarkable lull in the use of the death penalty for a state that has killed far more people than any other.
In the nearly five months since Pablo Vasquez was killed by lethal injection on April 6, execution after execution in the state has been canceled.
In fact, there hasn’t been a gap between Texas executions this long since June 2008, according to state records. That gap happened when the Supreme Court temporarily halted the death penalty nationwide during a case on the constitutionality of lethal injection.
The 2016 hiatus is, in part, a sign of the decline of the death penalty in the Lone Star State. Since 1976, Texas has executed 537 people — more than the next top six states combined. At its peak in 2000, the state had 40 executions, more than one every other week. That’s gradually declined over the years; in 2015, Texas executed 13 people.