source: USA Today
published: 22 October 2017
The nation’s rapidly declining rate of executions has leveled off, but opponents of capital punishment say the death penalty remains on borrowed time.
The execution Thursday of Alabama cop killer Torrey McNabb was the 21st this year, marking the first time that number has risen since 2009. The 2017 total could approach 30 before the year is out, depending on last-minute legal battles.
That ends a relatively steady drop in executions since 2009, when there were 52. Only three times has the annual number increased since executions peaked at 98 in 1999.
Several factors have contributed to this year’s hiatus in the broader trend. Eight states carried out executions, a spike from recent years. Among them were Arkansas, which executed four prisoners over eight days in April before its supply of lethal injection drugs expired, and Florida, which had halted executions for 18 months after the Supreme Court found its sentencing procedure unconstitutional.