The administration of the death penalty continues to be rife with racial disparities and botches. But SCOTUS continues to intervene to kill.

By Marisa Sarnoff, Law & Crime

With 18 executions carried out nationwide in 2022, the number of death sentences imposed this past year surpassed that of the two previous years, but the use of capital punishment is still trending downward overall, a leading death penalty monitoring group reports.

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According to the Death Penalty Information Center’s 2022 Year End Report, the number of executions in 2022 was less than in any pre-pandemic year since 1991. But while the number of executions furthers the overall downward trend, the DPIC report says, the ways in which the punishment is carried out are troublesome.

“The 18 executions carried out this year raised serious concerns about the application of the death penalty and the methods used to carry it out,” the report says. “Among those executed this year were prisoners with serious mental illness, brain damage, intellectual disability, and strong claims of innocence. In most jurisdictions, these cases would not even be capitally prosecuted today. Two prisoners were executed over the objections of the victims’ families, and two others were executed despite requests from prosecutors to withdraw their death warrants.”

The DPIC also cited surveys indicating that public support for the death penalty in the U.S. continues to wane. According to Gallup, for example, “support for capital punishment held steady at 55%, one percentage point above the 50-year low of 54% in 2021.” The report also found that “large majorities of Americans oppose executing people with mental illness, brain damage, or intellectual disability, or veterans with PTSD.”

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