TEXAS (USA): NO DEATH SENTENCES IN THE LAST 6 MONTHS
June 24, 2015: The last death sentence in Texas dates back to Dec. 17, 2014. The number of inmates on Texas' death row is falling, and the reason for the decline isn't a rise in executions. At its peak in 1999, 460 men and women were living with a death sentence in Texas, according to the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS).
Today, there are 260. In 2000, an all-time high of 40 inmates were executed in Texas, compared with 10 last year.
So far this year, 9 inmates have been executed. The main reason is a drop in new death sentences. In 1999, 48 people were sentenced to Texas death row, according to BJS data. In 2008, that number was 9 - and has stayed in that range ever since. Juries condemned 11 new individuals to
death in Texas in 2014. This year, there have been no new death sentences so far, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ). Experts suggest several factors could be contributing to the falling number of death sentences, from a national decline in support
for the death penalty to shortages of the lethal drugs used in executions. But consistently, they point to a 2005 law that offered Texas prosecutors the option to pursue life-without-parole sentences
against capital murder defendants. Previously, capital murder offenders who did not receive the death penalty were eligible for parole after 40 years.
Kathryn Kase, executive director of the Texas Defender Service, a nonprofit organization of death penalty attorneys, said: "Life without parole allows us to go back and reverse our mistakes." Since that law was enacted, the number of life-without-parole sentences has increased nearly every year, according to TDCJ. Between 2007 and 2014, the number of life-without-parole sentences jumped from 37 to 96. There are more inmates in Texas serving life without parole than those with a death sentence. (Source: Texas Tribune, 24/06/2015)