The Death Penalty Information Center has released the annual year-end report: it’s a recommended read.

In the 2020 Year End Report from the Death Penalty Information Center, perhaps the most shocking revelation is its tally of ten (10) executions within a five (5) month time period by the federal government. These are civilian executions, not involving the military.  For more on that distinction read our earlier post, 10 Things to Know About U.S. Death Penalty in First Half 2020.
The Report points out that in 2020, for the first time in our nation’s history, the federal government executed more people than all the states — combined.
  • Every prisoner executed this year was age 21 or younger at the offense or had at least one of the following impairments: significant evidence of mental illness (8); evidence of brain injury, developmental brain damage, or an IQ in the intellectually disabled range (6); chronic serious childhood trauma, neglect, and/or abuse (14).
  • Five people were exonerated from death row in 2020, bringing the number of people exonerated from death row to 172 since 1973. In each of the five cases, prosecutorial misconduct contributed to the wrongful conviction.
  • With Colorado abolishing capital punishment this year, more than two-thirds of states (34) have either repealed the death penalty or not carried out an execution in 10 years. According to Gallup, the 43 percent of people who opposed the death penalty in 2020 is the highest level of opposition since 1966.
  • Candidates pledging systemic reforms, including reduced use or abandonment of the death penalty, won prosecutor races in several jurisdictions that have historically produced a large number of death sentences: Los Angeles County (CA), Travis County (Austin, TX), Orange-Osceola counties (Orlando, FL), and Franklin County (Columbus, OH). Across the county, reform prosecutors took the helm in counties comprising more than 12 percent of the nation’s death-row population.

For previous recommended reads, go here.