How many countries still use the death penalty?
In 2014, at least 22 countries are reported to have carried out judicial executions with at least 607 executions being recorded to have been carried out. It is believed that thousands more executions were carried out in China also.
Thousands are believed to have been executed and sentenced to death in China every year, but with numbers kept a state secret the true figure is impossible to determine. China is believed to have carried out more executions than the rest of the world put together.
Officially in Iran 289 executions were announced with at least 454 more not being acknowledged. Saudi Arabia carried out at least 90, Iraq at least 61 and the USA carried out 35.
After the Taliban attack in Pakistan, they have resumed executions and the government have said they will put hundreds more to death that have been convicted as terrorist.
Nigeria had 659 death sentences recorded in 2014 and in Egypt 509 death sentences were handed down in 2014.
Is the practice of the death penalty rising or falling?
Fewer executions took place in 2014 in the USA with only 7 states executing in 2014 compared to 9 in 2013. Overall fewer executions were recorded and some countries took a positive step towards the abolition of the death penalty.
Due to developments in Nigeria and Egypt leading to hundreds of people being sentenced to death, there was a dramatic rise in the number of death sentences recorded in 2014 compared to 2013, 2466 compared to 1925 handed down the year before.
Does the death penalty lower crime rates?
Scientific studies have consistently failed to demonstrate that executions deter people from committing crime anymore than long prison sentences. States without the death penalty actually have much lower murder rates. In the South of the US more than 80% of US executions are carried out yet they have the highest regional murder rate.
The wrongful execution of an innocent person is an injustice that can never be rectified. Since the death penalty was reinstated, more than 150 men and women have been released from Death Row across the US with some only minutes away from execution (Staff Report, House Judiciary Subcommittee on Civil & Constitutional Rights, 1993, with updates from DPIC). Shockingly, in the past two years evidence has surfaced that indicates four men may have been wrongfully EXECUTED in recent years for crimes they did not commit. This error rate is completely unacceptable, when we are talking about life and death.
What is the alternative?
Life without parole is a sensible alternative to the death penalty. In every state in the USA that retains the death penalty, sentencing convicted capital murderers to a life in prison without the possibility of parole is an option for jurors. A sentence of Life Without Parole also allows mistakes to be corrected unlike the death penalty which is permanent.