The Death Penalty In 2011: Three Things You Should Know

noose death penaltyEvery year around this time, Amnesty International releases its annual survey of capital punishment worldwide.

As in previous years, the report – Death Sentences and Execution 2011 – shows that support for executions continued to diminish, and that the U.S. is in the wrong company but moving in the right direction. There are three main takeaways from this years report.

1. Globally, the use of the death penalty remained in decline.  At the end of 2011 there were 140 countries considered abolitionist in law or practice (it’s now 141 with the addition of Mongolia), while only 20 countries were known to have put prisoners to death.  Only in the tumultuous Middle East was there an increase in executions.

2. The United States stayed in its dubiously bad place on this fundamental human rights issue. The U.S. was the only country in the Western hemisphere or the G8 to kill its prisoners, and was responsible for the fifth most known executions in the world, behind China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. (As an independent country, Texas would have ranked 7th, between North Korea and Somalia, with its 13 executions in 2011.)

3. On the other hand, there were unmistakable signs of a substantially reduced enthusiasm for the death penalty in the U.S. In March, Illinois become the 16th state to abolish the death penalty, and in November, Oregon’s Governor declared a moratorium on executions.  Nationwide, executions were down slightly (43 compared to 46 in 2010), and death sentences were way down (78 compared to 104 in 2010 and 158 on 2001).  The execution of Troy Davis in September was accompanied by an unprecedented outpouring of opposition, and a Gallup poll showed support for the death penalty at its lowest ebb since 1972.

As more states approach the finish line of death penalty abolition, and as more injustices in capital casesare exposed,  these trends in the U.S. – mirroring global trends – are likely to continue.  The U.S. may still be at the back of the abolition train, but at least it’s on the right track.

death_penalty_world_map

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31 thoughts on “The Death Penalty In 2011: Three Things You Should Know

  1. The death penalty should be abolished worldwide. Killing is killing and it is against all religious and secular standards. An eye for an eye is just childish.

  2. The death penalty should be abolished worldwide. Killing is killing and it is against all religious and secular standards. An eye for an eye is just childish.

  3. Thank you for a fine new report. Yesterday I was very
    excited to see Mongolia, which signed the Second
    Optional Protocol to the ICCPR this January, listed
    as "Abolitionist in Practice." When will the U.S.A.
    catch up? How ironic that in 1792, Benjamin Rush, a
    signer of the Declaration of Independence of the
    U.S.A., wrote, "An execution in a republic is like a
    human sacrifice in religion." In 1793, Tom Paine, one
    of the most outspoken opponents of monarchy, opposed
    the death penalty for Louis XVI, finding such a
    punishment likewise unfit for a republic — and became
    a prisoner of conscience almost executed himself! The
    world more and more overwhelmingly understands this,
    including a number of monarchies — when will the
    U.S.A.?

  4. Thank you for a fine new report. Yesterday I was very
    excited to see Mongolia, which signed the Second
    Optional Protocol to the ICCPR this January, listed
    as “Abolitionist in Practice.” When will the U.S.A.
    catch up? How ironic that in 1792, Benjamin Rush, a
    signer of the Declaration of Independence of the
    U.S.A., wrote, “An execution in a republic is like a
    human sacrifice in religion.” In 1793, Tom Paine, one
    of the most outspoken opponents of monarchy, opposed
    the death penalty for Louis XVI, finding such a
    punishment likewise unfit for a republic — and became
    a prisoner of conscience almost executed himself! The
    world more and more overwhelmingly understands this,
    including a number of monarchies — when will the
    U.S.A.?

  5. Death penalty is evil. Like torture. It makes be sad, that I didn't see hundreds of replies from US citizens on this web log supporting your point of view, i.e. to put an end to this dark age way of dealing with criminals. Maybe the silent majority has got scared with all this surveillance of whatever you do, say or think? Or maybe you don't care? As a Dane, I find the US use of the death penalty disgusting and, for me, it puts the US in the same league as the so-called rascal states. What is wrong with you?

  6. I meant: "It makes me sad,…".

    Anyway, I want answers.

    I'm not only curious, but what is wrong with you people?

    Why can you continue the tradition of hanging niggas in the nearest tree in the 21st century. I just don't get it.

    Is Obama an Uncle Tom cartoon, or are you people just beyond pedagogical reach?

  7. Death penalty is evil. Like torture. It makes be sad, that I didn’t see hundreds of replies from US citizens on this web log supporting your point of view, i.e. to put an end to this dark age way of dealing with criminals. Maybe the silent majority has got scared with all this surveillance of whatever you do, say or think? Or maybe you don’t care? As a Dane, I find the US use of the death penalty disgusting and, for me, it puts the US in the same league as the so-called rascal states. What is wrong with you?

  8. I meant: “It makes me sad,…”.

    Anyway, I want answers.

    I’m not only curious, but what is wrong with you people?

    Why can you continue the tradition of hanging niggas in the nearest tree in the 21st century. I just don’t get it.

    Is Obama an Uncle Tom cartoon, or are you people just beyond pedagogical reach?

  9. Wow. What would you people do if someone you loved was murdered? I seriously doubt that you would be against the death penalty then.

  10. Jory,

    Got your point.

    I'd probably go bananas and take the time.

    The main problem with death penalty is, that it is irreversible.

    If you combine that with a corrupt law enforcement system, things get nasty.

  11. Wow. What would you people do if someone you loved was murdered? I seriously doubt that you would be against the death penalty then.

  12. Jory,

    Got your point.

    I’d probably go bananas and take the time.

    The main problem with death penalty is, that it is irreversible.

    If you combine that with a corrupt law enforcement system, things get nasty.

  13. I simply don't want the state having that much power. They already kill far to many people. Also, you may laugh but being a Christian I just can't condone it. When Jesus was confronted with a death penalty case I know what he did. None of this is to say some people don't deserve death – certainly there are. Many are dead who deserve life but there isn't any thing I can do about that either.

  14. I simply don’t want the state having that much power. They already kill far to many people. Also, you may laugh but being a Christian I just can’t condone it. When Jesus was confronted with a death penalty case I know what he did. None of this is to say some people don’t deserve death – certainly there are. Many are dead who deserve life but there isn’t any thing I can do about that either.

  15. How ironic that in 1792, Benjamin Rush, a
    signer of the Declaration of Independence of the
    U.S.A., wrote, “An execution in a republic is like a
    human sacrifice in religion.” In 1793, Tom Paine, one
    of the most outspoken opponents of monarchy, opposed
    the death penalty for Louis XVI

  16. How ironic that in 1792, Benjamin Rush, a
    signer of the Declaration of Independence of the
    U.S.A., wrote, “An execution in a republic is like a
    human sacrifice in religion.” In 1793, Tom Paine, one
    of the most outspoken opponents of monarchy, opposed
    the death penalty for Louis XVI

  17. To Jory:

    If somebody who I loved was murdered, I would certainly not want anybody else to kill the offender, because I would want to do it myself. Leaving it to somebody else would cheat me on the revenge.

    But that is what I would WANT and has nothing to do with right or wrong, but is only about emotions taking over from sanity. So I sincerely hope that I would never be confronted with a such situation and if I was, that I would keep my sanity and let a legal system handle the matter.
    But then it is outmost important that said legal system is sane and respects Human Rights.

    Killing is caused by primal instincts and emotions, it is sometimes understandable but still not acceptable.
    But killings by laws or institutions that are not affected by such instincts or emotions, are not even understandable.
    And definitely not acceptable.

    Barn has a very important point when he does not want the State to have that much power.

    It is extremely important that you define your relation to the State. Who is in charge of who?

    Ultimately, you are in charge of the state. The State should run the errands of you and your fellow citizens. You have given them a mandate to do that, but you can not give away any mandates that you don’t have by yourself.

    It is thus your responsibility to oversee how the State conduct your business, and that the State will not take a mandate that they do not have.

  18. The death penalty should be replaced by the penalty shot, a similar, but different sanction.

  19. Well, Mbenzi…May I call you Mercedes?…I will explain, but first…did you dress yourself today? I did!! First time ever!!

  20. The name of the death penalty should be changed to “Ouchee-Gouchee”, as in, the murderer was sentenced to be Ouchee–Goucheed at midnight on March 1st. Vastly better! Yes, yes and…YAS!!

  21. The death penalty should be used for stealing fruit only, right at the fruit stand. It should be called ‘Sudden fruit death’ and should be imposed by the forced eating of fruit that has not been washed!!¿:-P

  22. The death penalty should be replaced by the “Hey, read this boring blog plus comments” penalty.