One of the most important local news stories of 2011 was the execution of Paul Rhoades, Idaho's first execution since 1994 and only the second since 1957.
But a new report out this morning indicates that death sentences across the United States reached a 35-year low this year. The Death Penalty Information Center said 78 people convicted of murder were sentenced to die so far in 2011, the first time in 35 years there have been fewer than 100 death sentences. In the peak year of 1996, 315 people received death sentences.
The same report also revealed a drop in executions. 2011's 43 executions were roughly half as many as in 2000. In 1998, 98 prisoners were put to death, the busiest year since executions resumed in 1977 following a halt imposed by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Texas led all states by executing 13 people in 2011. Other states joining Idaho this year in executions: Alabama, Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Virginia.