Texas executed just seven convicted killers this year, yet more than 200 remain on death row -- four dating back to the 1970s.
Kent Scheidegger with the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation says that's because the rules keep changing here.
“In 1976 the U.S. Supreme Court reviewed the Texas system and said it's fine, it's constitutional, but many years later they came back and said no it's not, so a lot of sentences had to be overturned,” he says.
That led to years of costly appeals.
“It costs a lot to keep people in prison and it costs more as they get older because health care is one of the primary costs of prisons,” says Scheidegger. “We have these cases being litigated by a lawyer on each side and a judge to hear them, all of whom are paid for by the taxpayers.”
So far Texas has just five executions scheduled in 2018. The number appears to be dropping along with the number of capital murder cases being tried.
“The longterm trend has been sharply down in terms of the number of murders,” says Scheidegger. “Secondarily, both prosecutors and juries nationwide are being more selective about who they sentence to death than they were previously.”