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US executions hit a 20-year low in 2014

The number of executions carried out in the US dropped to the lowest point since 1994, a new report shows.

A report from the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC) found only 35 people were executed in 2014, down from a peak of 98 in 1999. Just three states were responsible for 80 percent of the executions in the US: Texas (10), Missouri (10), and Florida (8).

The American Civil Liberties Union charted the rapid decline in executions:

The number of people sentenced to death also dropped to a modern low since 1974. DPIC expects 72 people will be sentenced to death in 2014, down from a peak of 315 in 1994 and 1996.

Some of the drop is due to states no longer carrying out executions. Eighteen states have banned the death penalty, with Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, and New York doing so since 2007. Governors in Colorado, Oregon, and Washington unilaterally put all executions on hold while they're in office. In California, a federal judge declared the state's death penalty unconstitutional because it takes too long to execute people and it's applied arbitrarily.

Many states have also run out of drug supplies for lethal injections. After the European Union banned exports of drugs often used for executions, states resorted to experimental, sometimes secret cocktails of drugs to execute inmates. But the drugs drew criticism after botched executions in Ohio, Oklahoma, and Arizona, prompting some states to delay executions as they review their practices.

Read more: Ohio's legislature just voted to make its executions more secretive.

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