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Death Penalty Statistics

Death Penalty Statistics

The controversy over death penalty is a much debated topic, garnering equally strong advocacies both for and against it. The following death penalty statistics throw some light upon numeric details of capital punishment that has been meted out in the US as well as certain other countries in the rest of the world.
Ishani Chatterjee Shukla
Supporters of capital punishment bear a special responsibility to ensure the fairness of this irreversible punishment.
~ Bill Clinton
The issue of capital punishment, especially the fairness of it, has been controversy's favorite child for a very long time. Before we get down to the death penalty statistics, let us take a brief tour of the concept of capital punishment and the debates surrounding it. Capital punishment refers to the execution of a convicted person by the state, following a judicial procedure, as a punishment for a very serious crime committed by him / her. Crimes which qualify for capital punishment are known as capital crimes. Different countries have their own list of crimes that are categorized as capital offenses punishable by death. First degree murder is perhaps the common capital crime which is included in the capital offenses list of all countries around the world. Besides this, aggravated murder, capital murder, kidnapping inflicting bodily injury, treason and sex crimes against minors also find a place among capital offenses in many countries of the world, including certain states of the US. In many Islamic countries, adultery is a capital offense and the convicted offenders are stoned to death. Now, let's take a look at both sides of the coin that is capital punishment to objectively evaluate death penalty pros and cons.
Arguments Favoring Death Penalty
Advocates in favor of death penalty present two points of view. The first point of view takes the route of justice and observes that death of the murderer is the only justice that can be extended to the murdered. The second point of view takes the route of human rights and kindness and observes that capital punishment is better as it kills the criminal instantly as opposed to life imprisonment which extracts the life out of the convicted criminal very slowly, which is more cruel than death penalty.
Arguments Against Death Penalty
There are three points of view regarding the reasons against capital punishment. The first argument against death penalty is that it is not fair of the state to murder the murderer when it does not rape the rapist or burn the house of the arsonist. If death penalty is legalized on the grounds of tit-for-tat concept of justice, then all other crimes should be punished accordingly. The second point of view observes that the society has no right to take away what it cannot give back. The murderer already committed a crime and a mortal sin by taking a human life - how different is the State from the murderer if it also resorts to doling out death to the killer? The third point of view takes a more logical route and poses a serious question upon the soundness of investigation and fairness of the trial system. This point of view observes that what if an innocent is erroneously tried and sent to the gallows? A later realization of such folly cannot bring back the dead!
Death Penalty Statistics in the US till Date
The following table shows the figures since 1976 till date.

Capital Punishments Since 1976 US State
55 Alabama
74 Florida
52 Georgia
49 Ohio
102 Oklahoma
492 Texas
7 Utah
110 Virginia
68 Missouri
43 North Carolina
43 South Carolina
US Death Penalty Statistics 2012
The following table depicts the number of executions performed by various states of the US this year, till date.

US State Executions
Alabama 2
Arizona 6
Delaware 1
Florida 3
Georgia 1
Idaho 1
Los Angeles 1
Mississippi 6
Ohio 3
Oklahoma 6
South Dakota 2
Texas 15
Utah 1
Virginia 2
Death Penalties in Other Countries
The following table shows the approximate number of executions in some other countries in the rest of the world that have been recorded as per the 2010 statistics.

Country Executions
China 1000+
Iran 250+
Iraq 120
North Korea 60+
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia 27+
Sudan 9
Syria 17+
Yemen 50+
Vietnam 9
Egypt 5
Libya 18+
Bangladesh 8+
Botswana 1
Singapore 1
Somalia 8+
Thailand 2

Death Penalty Facts
Following are some disturbing death penalty facts which make us ponder upon the validity of capital punishment and its procedures, if not question the fairness of it.
  • Maintaining and executing the capital punishment system, in the US, is costlier than sentencing an offender to life imprisonment without parole. The financial burden of maintaining the death penalty system is ultimately borne by the citizens who are the taxpayers.
  • Whether the capital punishment actually deters crimes is a debatable subject. Social studies on this subject have failed to irrefutably cast light on the question.
  • Many innocent people have fallen victims to the death sentence due to erroneous justice.
  • Whether we accept it or not, most often, race is a major determinant of whether the offender would be sent to the gallows or not. Crimes against Whites are more likely to result in a death penalty than crimes against Black people.
  • Millions which are spent on executing the murderer can be used to assist the families of the murder victims. Such families themselves acknowledge the fact that killing the murderer won't heal the emotional scars of his act.
  • Life imprisonment without parole is an effective alternative to capital punishment as the financial burden is easier on taxpayers and such a sentence keeps the offender confined away from society.

That was a brief overview of death penalty statistics and facts. Arguments for death penalty and against it is fated to continue for some more time. Should death penalty be allowed? If it is, then it is the responsibility of the judicial system to thoroughly ensure that the right person is being punished. Maybe, on grounds of social justice and irreversibility, death penalty should be abolished. On a concluding note, I'd like to quote Henry Ford:
Capital punishment is as fundamentally wrong as a cure for crime as charity is wrong as a cure of poverty.