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FILE - This Sept. 21, 2010, file photo shows the death chamber of the new lethal injection facility at San Quentin State Prison in San Quentin, Calif. Only 30 people were sentenced to death in the United States in 2016, the lowest number since the early 1970s and a further sign of the steady decline in use of the death penalty. The number is a sharp drop from the 49 death sentences last year and just a fraction of the peak of 315 in 1996, according to a report from the Death Penalty Information Center, a nonprofit organization that opposes capital punishment and tracks the issue. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)

Executions in the US fell to record lows in 2016. But the death penalty is not going away.


The death penalty is getting less support among Americans and executions fell to record lows in 2016.

The Death Penalty Information Center said in its annual report last week 20 people were executed in 2016. That's the lowest total in a quarter-century. For the first time in more than 40 years, no state imposed 10 or more death sentences; California led the nation with nine.

Public support for the death penalty also fell to a 40-year low, according to the Pew Research Center.

Only five states executed anyone:

  • Georgia (9)
  • Texas (7)
  • Alabama (2)
  • Missouri (1)
  • Florida (1)

However, in California, Nebraska and Oklahoma, bills to repeal the death penalty fell short.

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The number of defendants sentenced to death fell dramatically. In 1996 there were 315 death sentences, while in 2016 there were only 29. However, there are only about 300 fewer people on death row than in 1996. 

Progressive groups like the ACLU applauded the death penalty's decline.

But some residents of nations without the death penalty want it back.

Should the death penalty be repealed?

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