Did Death Sentences in US Increase or Decrease Last Year?

2014 death penalty top 5Amnesty International released its annual death penalty report last week, Death Sentences and Executions 2014, which tracks all known use of the death penalty on the planet from the past year. The report shows a large increase in global death sentences of 28%.

But the news isn’t all bad. Here in the United States, the death penalty’s steady decline continues unabated.

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There were at least 607 executions in 2014. So what?

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By Chiara Sangiorgio, Death Penalty Researcher at Amnesty International

The numbers behind our latest overview of the global use of the death penalty, released today, tell a chilling story: 607 people were executed in 22 countries and at least 2,466 men and women were sentenced to death in 55 countries in 2014 alone.

But, alarming as they are, the figures paint a partial picture of the true extent to which people are hanged, shot or given the lethal injection across the world.

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What Utah and Virginia Are Trying to Do to Keep The Death Penalty Will Shock You

A protester holds a sign up during an anti-death penalty protest on June 18,2001 in Santa Ana, CA. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

A protester holds a sign up during an anti-death penalty protest on June 18,2001 in Santa Ana, CA. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

As the death penalty declines across the US, a small number of states are taking drastic measures to keep their death chambers active.

In light of last year’s three gruesomely botched executions, Ohio and Oklahoma (responsible for two of them) are taking the precaution of putting executions on hold. But that’s a little too cautious for Utah and Virginia, two states that appear willing to do just about anything to continue executions.

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Tomorrow could mean life or death for Moses Akatugba

Moses Akatugba was 16 years old when he was arrested by the Nigerian police in 2005.

In the years that followed, he was beaten by the police, shot in the hand, and hung for hours at the police station. After 8 years of torture and ill treatment that led to a coerced confession of his involvement in a robbery, he was sentenced to death November 2013.

Moses’ case is sadly all too familiar in Nigeria, where a recent report by Amnesty International found the use of torture and ill-treatment to be rampant SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

VICTORY: Meriam Released Thanks to Your Help!

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By Margaret Huang, Amnesty International USA Deputy Executive Director of Campaigns and Programs

Great news! After constant campaigning and unwavering support on the part of more than a million Amnesty activists like you, Meriam Yehya Ibrahim, a Sudanese woman sentenced to death because of her religious beliefs, is free and arrived in Italy with her family yesterday.

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How Egypt’s New Regime is Silencing Civil Society

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Somewhere in Egypt, Hosni Mubarak must be smiling, knowing that three years after his downfall, he has won after all.

After three decades of muzzling civil society, of harassing, detaining and torturing political activists, scholars, journalists, lawyers, doctors and regular citizens of all stripes, Mubarak never was able to accomplish what the new regime has achieved in a matter of months.

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UPDATE: Formal Ruling on Egypt’s Mass Death Sentences Set for Tomorrow

Relatives of the defendants react after an Egyptian court sentenced 638 Morsi backers to death in a mass trial in Egypt (Photo Credit: Ahmed Ismail/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images).

Relatives of the defendants react after an Egyptian court sentenced 638 Morsi backers to death in a mass trial in Egypt (Photo Credit: Ahmed Ismail/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images).

Lives are always at stake when the death penalty is involved. But when the new el-Sisi government is preparing to execute 683 Egyptians, something even more is at stake: the future of the Egyptian judiciary.

On Saturday, an Egyptian court will formally rule on the initial 683 death sentences handed out in April in a case involving the death of a police officer in the August 2013 protests that followed the removal of President Muhamad Morsi. The sentence followed only by a matter of days a second, similar case in which 528 Egyptians were given the death penalty.

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Iraq’s Crisis: 3 Quick Points for U.S. Policymakers

Kurdish Peshmerga forces stand guard in the oil-rich city of Kirkuk on June 17 (Photo Credit: Onur Coban/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images).

Kurdish Peshmerga forces stand guard in the oil-rich city of Kirkuk on June 17 (Photo Credit: Onur Coban/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images).

As the latest crisis in Iraq unfolds, here are three basic points for U.S. policymakers to keep in mind:

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