[d]eath sentences continued to decline in 2009, with this year having the fewest death sentences since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976. Death sentences reached a high of 328 in 1994 and have dropped 63% in the past decade. The number of new death sentences for the year is projected to be 106, the seventh straight year of decline.
The drop in death sentences was particularly pronounced in Texas and Virginia, the two leading states in carrying out executions. During the 1990s, Texas averaged 34 death sentences per year and Virginia averaged 6. This year, Texas had 9 death sentences and Virginia one.
The Death Penalty in 2009: Year End Report
The Death Penalty Information Center released its The Death Penalty in 2009: Year End Report, noting that