Florida Led The Country In Death Sentences This Year

Nationwide, the use of the death penalty is in steep decline, with only nine states carrying out any executions at all last year. But in the Sunshine State, sentencing prisoners to die is as in vogue as ever.

>In fact, Florida led the country in new death sentences handed down in 2012, with 21 new prisoners headed to Death Row, according to a new report.

The analysis by the Death Penalty Information Center found that Florida and California -- where 14 prisoners were sent to Death Row -- were the only two states to hand down double-digit death penalties in 2012.

That follows a national trend against the ultimate punishment; more than half of states -- 29 in total -- either have no death penalty or haven't carried out an execution in more than five years.

In all, 43 people were executed nationwide, a 56 percent decline from 1999, the center reports.

But Florida is an outlier when it comes to imposing new death sentences; in fact, the Sunshine State is responsible for 26 percent of all the new death penalty cases in the country in 2012.

Florida does still trail Texas by a wide margin when it comes to actually killing prisoners, though. Texas executed 15 people in 2012; only three were executed in Florida, including Manuel Prado, the former Sweetwater police officer who admitted to gunning down nine people in the '80s.

Read the full report for yourself here:

Death Penalty report

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Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink