The United States was the only Western democracy that executed prisoners last year, even as an increasing number of U.S. states are moving to abolish the death penalty. According to Amnesty International’s annual review of worldwide death penalty trends, America’s 43 executions in 2011 ranked it fifth in the world in capital punishment.
Here’s the good news:
While the USA was once again the only executioner in the region [the Americas] during the year, developments in 2011 continued to suggest that this country is also edging away from the use of the death penalty. Illinois became the 16th abolitionist state in the USA and the third state to enact legislation to abolish the death penalty since 2007, following New Jersey in 2007 and New Mexico in 2009. In addition, a moratorium on executions was established in the state of Oregon in November. . .
A US non-governmental organization (NGO), the Death Penalty Information Center, recorded 78 new death sentences in 2011. This figure represents a marked decline in the use of the death penalty, particularly when compared with the average of 280 death sentences per year in the 1980s and 1990s.