Rate of death sentences, executions slows in SC

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The number of people on South Carolina's death row is at a nearly two-decade low.

Just 51 people are currently awaiting execution. There were 72 people on death row at the end of June 2005, and the state has performed just 10 executions since then.

Prosecutors in South Carolina didn't send anyone to death row in 2011, the first time that has happened since at least 1994. And South Carolina has executed just one inmate in the past three years.

Prosecutors worry that complex death penalty trials are too expensive except in the most extreme cases. Also, state law has banned parole for life sentences since 1995, making "life means life" an attractive option for juries and prosecutors who can use the death penalty to leverage a guilty plea.

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