Published on: Thursday, December 16, 2021

Capital punishment is waning in the U.S. with executions, death sentences and public support hitting historic lows in 2021. But racial inequities persist as Black men made up the majority of those put to death, according to an annual report by the Death Penalty Information Center.

“With Virginia’s abolition, a majority of U.S. states have now abolished the death penalty (23) or have a formal moratorium on its use (3). An additional ten states have not carried out an execution in at least ten years,” according to DPIC’s 2021 year-end report.

Just as in 2020, only five states, most of them in the South, and the federal government executed people in 2021, continuing a trend of geographic isolation in the use of the death penalty.

“Texas and the U.S. government each executed three people, Oklahoma executed two, and three additional states—Alabama, Mississippi and Missouri—each executed one person,” the report states. The federal government has not executed anyone since President Biden took office, and Attorney General Merrick Garland announced on June 1 a moratorium on federal executions pending a review of policy changes made by the Trump administration.

Forty-seven European countries, including Russia, bar capital punishment in accordance with the European Convention on Human Rights. The United Kingdom and France have not executed anyone since 1964 and 1977, respectively.