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The number of death sentences and executions in the U.S. dropped dramatically in 2011, and for the first time in 35 years, the number of new death sentences given fell to below 100, an anti-capital-punishment group reported Thursday.

The Death Penalty Information Center asserts that recent developments, like the Troy Davis execution, reflect “the growing discomfort that many Americans have with the death penalty.”

The report points to high-profile executions like one of Troy Davis in Georgia, which sparked a nationwide debate about capital punishment after seven of the nine eyewitnesses in the case recanted.

“I think that shook the confidence that some people had about the death penalty, that it really does risk innocent lives — even though many are guilty. There’s still the danger, and so juries are returning less death sentences, prosecutors are seeking it less,” Dieter told MSNBC. “Courts are looking at these cases more closely and governors are sometimes granting clemency, all because of the doubts and disfavor of the death penalty as it has been applied in the past 10 years.”



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