Prosecutors who seek the death penalty more frequently than their peers have had alarmingly high rates of misconduct, according to a report analyzing the outsized impact the nation’s most aggressive prosecutors have had on death sentencing.
The report, “America’s of executions have fallen to record lows in the modern death penalty era, with fewer people put to death in 2015 than since the 1970s. Some states banned capital punishment more than 150 years ago and now, 19 states and the District of Columbia have abolished the death penalty.
Still, a majority of Americans continue to favor execution, even though no evidence shows it deters crime.
And while most prosecutors pursue fewer death sentences than in the past, researchers note that the issue of personalty-driven death sentencing still happens.
In counties that continue to vigorously impose the death penalty, “a handful of prosecutors dominate death-sentencing statistics,” the report says.
The researchers name three active prosecutors who, if they continue at their current rate, may one day find themselves atop the list of “deadliest” prosecutors.
The “watch” list includes: Assistant State Attorney Bernie de la Rionda of Florida’s Duval County, who has won 22 death sentences; Deputy Maricopa County Attorney Jeannette Gallagher, of Arizona, who has obtained nine death sentences; and Commonwealth’s Attorney Paul Ebert of Prince William County, Virginia, who has obtained at least 14 death sentences.
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