The American death penalty is disappearing. Death sentences and executions have reached the lowest levels seen in three decades. Even the states formerly most aggressive in pursuit of death sentences have seen death sentences steadily decline. Take Virginia, which has the highest rate of executions of any death penalty state, and which has executed the third highest number of prisoners since the 1970s. How times have changed. There has not been a new death sentence in Virginia since 2011. Only seven counties have imposed death sentences in the past decade in Virginia.