The persistence of capital punishment in some American states is cause for disgust. There is some good news, though: the death penalty is on the decline. These year end numbers prove it.

The Death Penalty Information Center released its annual report today, and the trends are all going the right way. Two facts tell the story: In 2014, there were 35 executions in seven states, the lowest number since 1994, and down 10% from last year; and there were 72 death sentences handed down by courts, the lowest number in 40 years. There are now just over 3,000 people on death row, and that figure has declined every year since 2001.

Texas, Missouri, and Florida alone were responsible for 28 of the 34 executions in America. California, Florida, and Texas have the most people on death row. Six states have inmates on death row, but have either permanently or temporarily stopped executing people.

A trend moving in the right direction is better than a trend moving in the wrong direction. But when dozens of people are dying every year, gradual progress is not enough. Here's to a better 2015.

If you're interested, you can read letters to us from death row inmates here. Ray Jasper's letter was particularly insightful. Five of our death row correspondents, including Jasper, have been executed so far.

[The full report]