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39 death sentences carried out in 2013; majority in Texas, Florida

WASHINGTON, Dec. 19 (UPI) -- Texas and Florida were responsible for the majority of the 39 executions in the United States in 2013, a Death Penalty Information Center report indicated.

Executions were down about 10 percent in 2013 compared to 2012 and 60 percent since 1999, the center's report released Thursday, showed.

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One of the reasons for fewer executions in 2013 was states' inability to obtain lethal injection drugs, the report said.

The study said Texas had 16 executions and Florida had seven.

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Eighty new death sentences were imposed this year, up slightly from the 77 death sentences last year, the lowest number since 1973.

The center said death sentences have declined by 75 percent from 1996, when 315 were imposed.

"Twenty years ago, use of the death penalty was increasing. Now it is declining by almost every measure," said Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington. "The recurrent problems of the death penalty have made its application rare, isolated and often delayed for decades. More states will likely reconsider the wisdom of retaining this expensive and ineffectual practice."

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California, North Carolina, Arkansas, and Maryland -- which abolished the death penalty in 2013 -- have not had an execution in more than seven years because of their inability to settle on a lethal injection protocol, the report said. Federal executions have been put on hold for the same reason. Many drugs used in lethal injections are manufactured in Europe, where opposition to the death penalty resulted in a ban on exporting drugs for executions.

The number of states with capital punishment laws dropped to 32 this year when Maryland became the 18th state to abolish capital punishment, the center's report said.

The number of people on death row also fell, the report said. As of April 1, there were 3,108 inmates on death row across the country, compared to 3,170 at the same time last year.

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The report also said public support for the death penalty, as measured in an annual Gallup poll, declined to 60 percent, its lowest level in 40 years.

RELATED Report: 2012 executions ties 2011 total

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