HOUSTON (AP) — Texas juries sentenced eight convicted killers to death in 2010, the fewest since 1976 in the nation's most active death penalty state.
The figures were released Monday by the Austin-based Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty and were characterized as an "astonishing development" by the group's executive director, Kristin Houle.
Executions also were down in 2010. Seventeen people were put to death, the lowest total since 2001.
Houle told the Houston Chronicle that the figures indicate "Texas and the rest of the country are moving away from the death penalty."
Harris County, which typically leads the nation in death sentences, condemned two people in 2010.
Supporters of the death penalty say fewer death sentences may reflect fewer killers and fewer killers who are eligible for execution.