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Law and Criminal Justice

Data: Number of Indiana Death Penalty Cases Has Declined In Past 5 Years

Joe Gratz

The Owen County Prosecutor says he hasn’t decided whether to pursue the death penalty for the man accused of raping and killing one-year-old Shaylyn Ammerman.

In order for a case to qualify for the death penalty, it must meet at least one of 18 circumstances outlined by the General Assembly. One of those circumstances is murder of a child.

Assistant Executive Director of the Indiana Public Defender Council Paula Sites says fewer county prosecutors are pursuing capital punishment.

“We used to average between 25 and 40 death penalty cases filed each year throughout the state,” Sites says. “Over the last ten years our average is actually fewer than two per year.”

Sites says one reason for the drop in death penalty cases could be the cost.

A 2010 report from the Legislative Services Agency found, on average, it costs more than 10 times as much to prosecute a death penalty case to its end than to try a life without parole case. 

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