Executions Drop to 13-Year Low
42 people put to death in '07; further decline could follow Court ruling
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 19, 2007 12:14 PM CST
Death penalty opponent Linda Avalos gives the peace sign as she holds a sign in front of San Quentin Prison in San Quentin, Calif., in this Jan. 16, 2006 file photo, before the scheduled execution of...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – With the Supreme Court set to hear arguments Jan. 7 about lethal-injection procedures, figures show that US states executed just 42 people this year, a 13-year low. The case before the court has prompted states using lethal injection to execute inmates to stay pending executions; on Monday, New Jersey became this first state since 1965 to abolish the death penalty.

If the high court rules that a three-drug "cocktail" used in lethal injections represents an unconstitutional "cruel and unusual punishment," states might need years to meet more stringent standards for execution. Texas continues to lead the nation in executing its prisoners, putting 26 people to death in 2007. Ten states carried out executions; all but six executions came in the South.