Washington Times – States put brakes on capital punishment

By David Hill

Monday, December 10, 2012

For just the second time since 1984, Virginia and Maryland will end the year without executing a single death row inmate — reflecting a national trend of states using capital punishment less often over the past decade.

Maryland has long been reluctant to use its death penalty. Virginia, which ranks only behind Texas in the number of executions over the past 35 years, has put fewer people to death in recent years as many cases are tied up in appeals and as juries become less likely to recommend the punishment in capital murder cases.

Analysts say executions have plummeted nationwide and are banned in some states because of rising concerns over heavy court costs, biased sentencing and, perhaps most prominently, the fear that a state could — or already has — killed an innocent person.

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