Photo courtesy of the California Department of Corrections via Wikipedia Commons.

The U.S. Ranks Among The Top 5 Countries In Death Penalty Usage

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Photo courtesy of the California Department of Corrections via Wikipedia Commons.

Considered either a human right violation or a just retribution, the death penalty is a controversial topic, especially in the U.S.

However, more than two thirds of the world’s countries have abolished the method in law or in practice, according to Amnesty International.

Here’s the breakdown, from Amnesty:

  • 98 countries have no death penalty, under any circumstances.
  • 8 countries have the death penalty only for military crimes or extraordinary circumstances.
  • 35 countries are abolitionist in practice, meaning they haven’t executed anyone in over 10 years and are considered to have a policy or practice of not executing people.

A total of 140 countries have essentially abolished the death penalty. An average of three countries a year have abolished the death penalty since 1976.

That leaves 58 countries, however, that can still execute its citizens.

In 2012, according to the latest Amnesty numbers available, 682 people were killed worldwide.

This excludes China, which keeps its death penalty statistics secret. Amnesty estimates that thousands of people are killed there every year, however.

Out of the 58 countries who have the death penalty, 21 countries carried out executions. The top countries were China, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the U.S.

The United States had a moratorium over death penalties in effect from 1972, but it was reinstated by the Supreme Court in 1976. Since then, more than 1,300 people have been executed in the U.S., according to the Clark County Prosecuting Attorney.

Almost 500, or 37%, of those executions were carried out in Texas. The death penalty is most commonly used in the southern U.S.

There are 32 states in the U.S. where the death penalty is legal, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. Federal courts can order a death penalty in any state, however.

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Ole Skaar