Record low number of killers sent to death row in 2015 - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Record low number of killers sent to death row in 2015

AMARILLO, TX - Only two death sentences were handed down in Texas in 2015.

This is the lowest number since the death penalty was reinstated nearly 40 years ago.

Texas was responsible for nearly half of the nation's death row executions this year, but death penalty cases are becoming more rare.

One reason for this change is the amount of money that goes into death penalty cases.

Randall County District Attorney James Farren says the judicial process is the biggest expense in these cases.

That is in large part because inmates can sit on death row for decades before being executed.

Juries are also more likely to opt for life in prison without parole "if they believe the person will actually die in prison," said Farren.

A majority of the population still favors the death penalty, but Attorney Dean Boyd said that belief is tested in court.

"You don't really know if you believe in the death penalty until you are sitting there in judgment on someone's living or dying," said Boyd. "That is a hard, hard thing to do. It's easy to have an opinion, hard to actually do. They'd better be right, and the evidence better be crystal clear."

Nationally, there were 49 new death sentences in 2015. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, this is a 33% decline from the previous low of 73 in 2014.

The next execution in Texas is scheduled for January 20, 2016.

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