The number of state-sponsored executions jumped 41 percent in 2009 even as the number of death penalty court sentences dropped, according to a report from the Washington-based Death Penalty Information Center.
The 52 executions nationwide last year represented a 41 percent increase from the 37 executions in 2008, the DPIC said in its annual report on capital punishment trends.
Much of that increase was due to the end of an eight-month informal moratorium on executions nationally through mid-2008, while the U.S. Supreme Court considered a case on methods used in lethal injection, said Richard Dieter, executive director of the DPIC.
“The rise in 2009 was expected as states were backlogged with cases,” he said. “But the country continues to move away from the death penalty. This decade has been marked by a declining use of the death penalty.”