Courts & Crime

Report: Big decline in executions, death sentences

The number of executions in the United States hit a 20-year low in 2014, according to a report issued Thursday.

The 35 executions this year, the fewest since 1994, marked a continued decline in the ultimate sanction. The 72 new death sentences in 2014 were likewise the lowest number in the modern era of the death penalty, dating back to 1974.

Death sentence have declined by 77 percent since 1996, when there were 315, according to the tally by the Death Penalty Information Center.

“The U.S. will likely continue with some executions in the years ahead, but the rationale for such sporadic use is far from clear,” Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, said in a statement.

Texas, Missouri and Florida account for 80 percent of all executions in the United States.