Report: Public Support For Death Penalty On Continued Decline

December 16, 2022

Public support for use of the death penalty continued on a more than two-decade decline in the U.S. in 2022, according to a report by the DC-based Death Penalty Information Center.

The annual report noted that there were 18 executions in the U.S. in 2022, the fewest in any pre-pandemic year since 1991. There were 11 executions in 2021. Outside of pandemic years, the 20 death sentences were the fewest handed out in a half-century.

Thirty-seven U.S. states have either abolished the death penalty or not carried out an execution in more than a decade. 

On Tuesday, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) announced she was commuting the sentences of all 17 inmates awaiting execution in the state, shifting their death sentences to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Oregon last executed a prisoner in 1997.

In July 2021, the DOJ imposed a moratorium on federal executions.

Of note, however, the report called 2022 the “Year of the Botched Execution,” pointing out that seven of the 20 execution attempts in the U.S. were visibly problematic or took an inordinate amount of time, prompting several state’s governors to put executions on hold while processes and protocols could be reviewed. 

“There are very few states that are trying to carry out the death penalty. But they are acting in ways that…their conduct is undermining public confidence that states can be trusted with the death penalty,” said Robert Dunham, Executive Director of the Death Penalty Information Center, a nonprofit.

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