This week Delaware became the latest state to make the death penalty a part of its history, rather than its future.
The state Supreme Court on Tuesday declared Delaware’s death penalty unconsititutional, and the state legislature – which came within a few votes of abolishing the death penalty last year – is considered unlikely to take the steps needed to revive the death penalty.
Delaware is the 20th state to make life without parole its maximum punishment, and the eighth since 2008.
But those numbers don’t tell the whole story about just how obsolete the death penalty has become. Another 11 states have not carried out an execution in at least a decade – and North Carolina is one of them.
Of the 19 remaining states that have a death penalty in practice, only three – Georgia, Missouri, and Texas – have actually carried out an execution this year. The vast majority of states still trying to use the death penalty have been stymied by botched executions, drug shortages, or challenges to the constitutionality of their death penalty statutes.
The writing on the wall is clear: The U.S. death penalty is headed for extinction. The only question is when.