It was mostly symbolic: New Jersey hasn’t actually executed someone it’s sentenced to death in more than forty years. But its decision to repeal the death penalty last week was still a seismic political event. The decision emboldened anti-death penalty lawmakers in other states like Nebraska and Maryland. (Four other states where the death penalty is legal haven’t executed anyone in decades.)
Into the breach steps Texas. A story in yesterday’s New York Times says that as a de facto moratorium on executions has become the rule in many states, The Lone Star State is now responsible for 60% of all executions in the United States, at about 23 a year. David R. Dow, a law professor in the article said that in the near future Texas will account for almost all of the executions in the country.
(On The Media takes a look at how the press covers executions in a state that averages two a month. Short answer: with increasing editorial and public disinterest.)