Death Sentences at Historic Lows, Report Says

December 15, 2011 Updated Dec 15, 2011 at 5:40 PM EDT

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Death Sentences at Historic Lows, Report Says

December 15, 2011 Updated Dec 15, 2011 at 5:40 PM EDT

According to a news release issued by the Death Penalty Information Center on Thursday, new death sentences dropped to 78 in 2011, marking the first time since capital punishment was reinstated in 1976 that the U.S. has produced fewer than 100 death sentences in a year.

Death sentences have declined approximately 75 percent since 1996, according to the news release, and executions have also decreased across the U.S. by 56 percent since 1999.

Read the Death Penalty Information Center news release HERE.