During the 1990s, there were about 300 death sentences handed down each year in Texas. In 2010, that number dropped to 114.
In 1991, there were 98 executions. In 2010, only 46.
Toobin is thorough and discusses several possible reasons for the drop in numbers. But what he hits hardest is that, until recently, mitigating evidence was often not presented to juries. In other words, juries didn’t hear the life stories of the convicted. Now that many of these stories are now being heard, thanks in part to Danalynn Recer, who directs an advocacy center, far fewer deaths occur. This is not an argument for or against capital punishment, but an example of the power of stories.