Skip navigation
Disciplinary Self-Help Litigation Manual - Header
× You have 2 more free articles available this month. Subscribe today.

Use of Death Penalty Continues to Decline in the U.S.

by Douglas Ankney

In 2021, 11 people in the U.S. were killed as punishment for their crimes. This was the fewest number of Americans in recent history to be subjected to state-sanctioned killing. And it was the seventh consecutive year that fewer than 30 people were executed in the name of justice.

There seems to be no desire to reverse the downward trend in spite of an uptick in homicides and violent crimes during the COVID pandemic. Twenty-three states no longer kill people as punishment for their crimes.

Governor Gavin Newsome also has a moratorium halting executions of any of California’s 699 men and women being held for slaughter on death row. In Oregon, Governor Kate Brown has continued the moratorium begun in 2011. And in 2019, the Oregon Supreme Court retroactively applied a law that limits the death penalty to four types of aggravated murder: (1) terrorist acts that kill two or more people, (2) premeditated murder of children, (3) prison murders by people already incarcerated for murder, and (4) premeditated murder of prison guards.

President Joe Biden promised during his campaign to end the federal death penalty. While Congress has yet to pass any law to end the barbaric practice of executing people, there have been no sanctioned federal killings of prisoners during Biden’s reign.

The only aberration to the decline in judicial killings occurred during President Trump’s killing spree. The last six months of his promised quest to “make America great again” saw 13 federal killings of defenseless people caged on death row.

(Note: Also, for 2021, the Death Penalty Information Center reports that more than $78 million was paid in court awards and settlements to people wrongly sentenced to death due to police and prosecutor misconduct—with $75 million awarded to half-brothers Henry McCollum and Leon Brown who were exonerated via DNA of rape-murder after spending 31 years on death row.) 


As a digital subscriber to Criminal Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.

Subscribe today

Already a subscriber? Login



Disciplinary Self-Help Litigation Manual - Side
Advertise Here 4th Ad
Disciplinary Self-Help Litigation Manual - Side