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US set to execute 1,000th convict since 1977

[JURIST] Next Wednesday Robin Lovitt [Virginians United Against Crime profile], 41, is slated to become the 1,000th person to be executed since the 10 year moratorium on capital punishment [Wikipedia backgrounder] in the United States was lifted in 1977. He is convicted of fatally stabbing a man with scissors during a pool hall robbery in Virginia in 1998. Convicted killer Gary Gilmore [Crime Library profile] was the first to be executed after the series of 1976 Supreme Court decisions that upheld state laws reforming the capital punishment system. More than 3,400 prisoners have been on death row in the US since 1977, with an average execution of one person every ten days. Nationwide death sentences have, however, dropped by 50% since the late 1990s and executions carried out have dropped by 40%, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. A 2005 Gallup poll [deathpenaltyinfo.org] put American support of the the death penalty at 64%, the lowest in 27 years. Both houses of Congress are currently considering legislation [JURIST report] that would make it more difficult for defendants in capital cases to appeal to federal courts, thus shortening the execution waiting periods, but some say could lead to innocent people being put to death. AP has more.

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