STUDIES: New Report from Amnesty International on Worldwide Use of Death Penalty

On March 27, Amnesty International released its annual survey on the use of capital punishment worldwide, titled Death Sentences and Executions 2011. The report illustrated that the use of the death penalty has continued to decline around the world. At the end of 2011, there were 140 countries considered abolitionist in law or practice, while only 20 countries were known to have put prisoners to death in 2011. The United States was the only country in the Western hemisphere or among the G8 nations to carry out executions, and was the fifth country in terms of known executions carried out in the world, behind China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. China reportedly conducts thousands of executions in a year, but the exact number is not known. With 13 executions, Texas would have ranked 7th as an independent country, between North Korea and Somalia. The report nevertheless highlighted signs of substantially reduced support for the death penalty in the U.S., including the abolition of the death penalty in Illinois, a moratorium on executions in Oregon, a significant decline nationally in death sentences, and a smaller decline in executions in 2011.

(“Death Sentences and Executions in 2011,” Amnesty International, March 2012). For an in-depth review of the death penalty in the United States in 2011, see DPIC’s 2011 Year End Report. See International and Studies.