Capital Punishment
7:40 am
Wed December 26, 2012

Florida's Surging Death Penalties Buck Trend

Texas executed 15 convicts in 2012, the most of any state, according to an end-of-year report from the Death Penalty Information Center.

NEW MISSION: Exonerated after 12 years on Florida's death row, Freddie Lee Pitts became an activist.
Credit deathpenaltyphotos.org

But Florida led the nation with new death sentences for the year: 21, more than twice as many as Texas. California, with 14 death sentences, was the only other state to achieve a double-digit performance.

But, Florida notwithstanding, the DCPIC finds the death penalty in decline, the Orlando Sentinel reports, with " fewer states endorsing capital punishment, relatively few death sentences being imposed, and executions being carried out at only half the rate of the late 1990s."

"The death penalty has been declining in use for about a decade and that continued in 2012," Executive Director Richard Dieter told the Orlando Sentinel. "There are now less states with the death penalty, as Connecticut abolished it this year."

Dieter said that the majority of new death-penalty cases in 2012 were in a small minority of states, with Florida, California, Texas and Pennsylvania accounting for 65 percent of new death sentences.

Often, he said, the inception of those cases is even more local, with prosecutors in individual jurisdictions contributing larger quantities of death-penalty cases. For example, several of Florida's new death cases in 2012 came from Duval County, the center's research shows.

Florida's three executions of the year:

  • Robert Waterhouse, convicted of raping and murdering 29-year-old Deborah Kammerer in Tampa Bay.
  • David Alan Gore, a serial rapist who admitted to killing four women and two teenage girls in the 1980s.
  • Manuel Pardo, a former police officer who killed nine people in the late 1980s and inspired comparisons with the Showtime serial killer character, "Dexter."

Florida ends the year with 406 people on death row.