The year-end report, released earlier this month in Washington, also reported the number of new death sentences in 2012, 78, was the second-lowest since the death penalty was reinstated by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1976, and represents a 75 percent decline from the 1996 high of 315 sentences.
The 43 executions in 2012 equals to that of 2011, it said, adding that with the addition of Connecticut this year, 17 states have repealed their death penalty, and over half the states, 29, either have no death penalty or have not conducted an execution in the last five years.
"Capital punishment is becoming marginalized and meaningless in most of the country. In 2012 fewer states have the death penalty, fewer carried out executions, and death sentences and executions were clustered in a small number of states," said Richard Dieter, the Center's executive director.
Four states – Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi and Arizona – were responsible for three-quarters of 2012's executions, the report said.