RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia's death row population has dwindled to eight from a peak of 57 in 1995, and it's not just because of the state's efficiency in carrying out capital punishment.
A couple of death sentences have been erased recently - one because of the inmate's mental health issues, another because a star witness changed his story and prosecutors withheld key evidence. Another inmate's innocence claim based on recanted testimony was revived last year by an appellate court and is in a judge's hands.
But another major reason for the declining death row population is that fewer death sentences are being handed down. David Bruck of the Virginia Capital Case Clearinghouse at Washington and Lee University School of Law says death row has received only two new inmates in nearly five years.