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NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The Lone Star State is losing the reputation as a leader in death penalty sentences and executions. This year the state of Texas has carried out the fewest executions in two decades.

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Seven Texas death row inmates faced lethal injection and actually went to the death chamber in 2016 – the lowest number since 1996.

Kristin Houlé, with the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, says the driving factor for the decline is the review process. “In 15 cases over the last two years the Court of Criminal Appeals has called a halt to the execution for any number of concerns.”

In the year 2000 the state of Texas carried out 40 executions, but since then capital punishment numbers have steadily declined.

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The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals is another big factor in the lower numbers. The court halted seven executions over concerns about the court process and overall is just scrutinizing cases more often.

Houlé said, “They are halting executions based on faulty forensic science, possible prosecutorial misconduct (and) issues related to DNA testing.”

The public is also having an impact on capital punishment in Texas. Some experts say juries today are less likely send someone to the death chamber if they have Life Without Parole as a sentencing option.

In terms of most executions carried out by state Georgia now holds that distinction — putting nine people to death this year.

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