Downward trend in death penalty convictions, executions

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A recent study from the Death Penalty Information Center shows the number of death row inmates executed in America has steadily dropped since 1999. That could be because jurors are returning with life sentences instead of capital punishment.

“The highest rates we see is when it's a child as the victim,” says Tim Young, Ohio Public Defender.

“When it's a police officer as a victim, or when there are multiple homicides, when somebody kills more than 2 people,” he adds when asked who jurors are sending to death row.

Source: Death Penalty Information Center

The recent trial against Brian Golsby in Columbus is one example of a death row case where a convicted murderer received life in prison instead. Golsby was found guilty of killing Ohio State student Reagan Tokes in 2017. The jury decided against the death penalty.

Another high-profile case last summer came back with life in prison without parole instead of capital punishment. Lincoln Rutledge was found guilt of killing Columbus Police SWAT officer Steven Smith in 2016. A jury couldn’t unanimously agree and gave Rutledge life in prison with no parole.

According to DPIC, the number of executions peaked in 1999 with 98 death row convictions carried out. In 2008, the number dropped to a 10 year low of 37. Executions rose slightly in the years to follow but fell to 16 executions in 2016 and only 23 executions last year.

Source: Death Penalty Information Center

Click here to read more from DPIC.

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