Of the 50 US States, 31 are currently implementing the death penalty and for good reasons. The South has skyrocketed to the region with the highest number of executions, racking their number up to 1,142 prisoners. To put that in perspective, the next highest number is 634 executions in Texas and Oklahoma. Currently, there are approximately 3,261 prisoners on death row, and 138 others have been removed from the line after their innocence has been proven.
Capital punishment is perhaps the worst conversation starter and one of the most dividing issues we have among us today. In a recent poll, 65% of people said that they support such a penalty, but that it should only be used in the most severe cases (mostly homicide and crimes against the state). Most of the Northeast (including Massachusetts) does not offer capital punishment, however, the entire Western side of the US, as well as the Midwest, utilizes it. In the map on the left, yellow and orange states indicate those who use lethal injections (either primarily or as a backup/prisoner choice), while green means that they used to use lethal injection but not longer do, and shades of blue mean that they either never have, or said “yes” then never used it before changing their mind to “no.”
On April 24th, Arkansas became the first state since 2000 to execute two prisoners in one day. According to the New York Times, the state is currently in the process of “[carrying] out a series of capital punishments before one of its lethal injection drugs expires.” This seems, in some sense, rushed and a bit inhumane– I mean, they’re killing people for the sake of trying to get as many executions done before their drugs expire, which will eventually leave them to execute even more prisoners in a slightly less quick and easy way. This week is the first week in 12 years that Arkansas has executed prisoners, and their goal is to execute 8 prisoners in only 10 days.
To many, this seems absurd, and for a good reason. However, in the global view, in 2014 the US was found to be 5th in the grand scheme of the most executions, while China ranked number one with no affirmative number. China is found to be executing thousands of people on an annual basis, for more than just murder. Their methods are also much more underdeveloped, and they still, in 2017, use beheading as a method.
Up until now, Death Row has predominantly affected white individuals. For the past 53 years, Death Row (on a national level) has been more than 50% white, until just last year. According to a NAACP study, it was found that Death Row now has almost equal populations of White and Black inmates. Victims of Death Row inmates have remained predominantly white.
In a recent poll by Lake Research Partners, it was found that 61% of voters would choose a punishment different than the capital punishment. In my opinion, I agree. I know it sounds sadistic, but the prisoners who are ample candidates for the death sentence would probably receive a more effective punishment by spending their life in jail, rather than (again, I know this is sadistic) just dying. Granted, if they were executed this would ensure they could never hurt/kill/rape/etc someone again. But at this point in time, the United States has incredible access to near perfect detainment for prisoners, which ensures they would never be allowed into society without permission again.
If you’d like to read more statistics for Death Row, click here, and let us know what you think.