1 of 3 | A Friday report from the Death Penalty Information Center said 24 people were executed in the United States in 2023. Three death row inmates, including Glynn Simmons, shown here, were exonerated. Photo courtesy of the Death Penalty Information Center
Dec. 1 (UPI) -- For the ninth consecutive year, fewer than 30 people were executed in the United States in 2023 and fewer than 50 were sentenced to death as of Friday, according to the Washington, D.C.-based Death Penalty Information Center.
Texas and Florida accounted for more than half of this year's 24 executions. In 2022,18 people were put to death in the United States.
"As has been historically true, prisoners of color were overrepresented among those executed and cases with white victims were more likely to be executed," a statement from the nonprofit center said Friday.
"Nine of the 24 prisoners executed were people of color. The vast majority of crimes for which defendants were executed this year (79%) involved white victims."
And for the first time, a Gallup poll shows most Americans think the death penalty is administered unfairly, by a margin of 50% to 47%.
A majority of U.S. states, 29, have abolished the death penalty or paused executions by executive order. Three death row prisoners were exonerated this year, according to the center.
"The data show that most Americans no longer believe the death penalty can be imposed fairly," center executive director Robin M. Maher said in a statement.
"That important change can also be seen in the unprecedented show of support for death-sentenced prisoners from conservative lawmakers and elected officials this year, some of whom now oppose use of the death penalty in their state."
Florida had six executions and five new death sentences in 2023.
The center said use of capital punishment is still geographically isolated, with nearly all executions occurring in the South.
Just four other states put people to death in 2023 -- Alabama (2), Missouri (4), Oklahoma (4), and Texas (8).
Seven states sentenced people to death in 2023. They were Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Louisiana, North Carolina and Texas.
According to the center, "79% of the people executed this year had at least one of the following impairments: serious mental illness; brain injury, developmental brain damage, or an IQ in the range considered intellectually disabled; and/or chronic serious childhood trauma, neglect and/or abuse."
In a report published Friday, the center looked at capital punishment in Missouri, where four people were executed in 2023. The report said Missouri has a substantial history of racial violence directed at Black people.
"One of the most clear and persistent racial disparities in death sentencing concerns the overrepresentation of white victims among cases resulting in a death sentence," the report said.
"In Missouri, homicides involving white victims are seven times more likely to result in an execution than those with Black victims. ... Statistical analyses have found that broad prosecutorial discretion is one reason for continuing racial disparities in capital sentencing."
The center noted that of all death sentences in Missouri since 1972, 80% involved White victims, even though they are roughly 36% of homicide victims in the state. According to 2020 homicide data, the group said, Missouri had the highest Black homicide victimization rate in the country for the seventh year in a row.