United States: Cruel and Unusual

There is a recent decline of capital punishment in one of the two remaining industrialized nations with the death penalty.

January 17, 2016

There is a recent decline of capital punishment in one of the two remaining industrialized nations with the death penalty.

1. The number of executions carried out each year in the United States has gone down over the last decade and a half. After reaching a high of 98 in 1999, their number declined to 37 in 2008.

2. The 35 U.S. executions that were carried out in 2014 were the fifth-highest number worldwide.

3. Those executions were carried out in just seven of the 50 U.S. states.

4. Moreover, 28 of those executions were carried out in only three states: Texas (10), Missouri (10) and Florida (8). Arizona, Georgia, Ohio and Oklahoma were the other four states.

5. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, fewer than 2% of U.S. counties sentenced a majority of current death row inmates.

6. Nineteen U.S. states have abolished the use of the death penalty. The most recent state to do so was Nebraska, whose predominately Republican legislature voted in May 2015 to ban the practice. Nebraska had not carried out an execution since 1997.

7. While some states abolished capital punishment on the grounds that it constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, other states (such as Maryland) have objected to the disproportionate use of the death penalty for poor and African American offenders.

8. It also costs a state like Maryland three times as much to prosecute a death penalty case (through all its appeals) as a life-without-parole case.

9. The European Union has quietly applied strategic pressure and sanctions in recent years to deter the United States from using the death penalty.

10. Among the major democracies in the industrialized world, only the United States and Japan continue to execute people.

Sources: Amnesty International, Death Penalty Information Center and The Globalist Research Center

Takeaways

The number of executions carried out each year in the US has gone down over the last decade and a half.

The 35 US executions that were carried out in 2014 were the fifth-highest number worldwide.

Fewer than 2% of US counties sentenced a majority of current death row inmates.

Among the democracies in the industrialized world, only the US and Japan continue to execute people.