Death Penalty

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Basic Information

The death penalty, or capital punishment, is defined as the execution of a prisoner who has, in most cases, committed a serious crime. Executions have been in practice since ancient times, while the methods have varied greatly.

Death Penalty in the United States

The United States exercises capital punishment in cases which involve murder, most actions that result in death, espionage, treason, drug trafficking, and attempting or authorizing the murder of an officer, juror, or witness in a case.Currently, 36 states have laws which allow for punishment by death, while the remaining 14 states (plus DC) allow for life imprisonment as their maximum sentence. The death penalty was outlawed in the U.S. after the case of Furman v. Georgia 1972, but was reinstated after Gregg v. Georgia 1976.

Five methods of execution are currently maintained in the United States.

  • Lethal Injection is the most common form of the death penalty, which involves the execution by use of lethal drugs inserted intravenously. It is permitted in 37 states as an option, which include AL, AZ, AR, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MD, MI, MO, MT, NV, NH, NY, NC, OH, OK, OR, PA, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, WA, WY, the U.S. federal government, and the U.S. military.
  • Lethal Gas is the execution of a person by use of a poisonous gas in a sealed chamber. Five states permit lethal gas, while all have lethal injection as an alternate. It is currently legal in AZ, CA, MD, MO, and WY.
  • Electrocution involves the death of a person by the means of electrocuting the person in an electric chair. Eight states allow for death by electrocution, with seven of those allowing for lethal injection as another option. One state, Nebraska, has electrocution as the only method of execution. Electrocution is currently legal in AL, AR, FL, KY, NE, SC, TN, and VA.
  • Hanging involves killing a person by dropping the person with a rope around their neck so that the result would be an instant death by the snapping of the neck (or suffocation if, for some reason, the drop failed to inflict an instant death). Two states, Delaware and Washington, still authorize hanging. However, both of these states allow for lethal injection as an alternative.
  • Firing Squad is the killing of a person by a group of people who shoot at the person with rifles. It is legal only in Idaho and Utah, while lethal injection is an alternative in both states.

Life imprisonment without possibility of parole, which mandates keeping a person in prison for the remainder of their life, is a form of punishment available everywhere in the United States, except Texas. Imprisonment is always an alternative to the death penalty. It is the maximum form of punishment in 14 states: AK, HI, IA, NJ, ME, MA, MI, MN, ND, NM, RI, VT, WV, WI, and the District of Columbia.

New Jersey abolished the death penalty in December, 2007.

New Mexico abolished the death penalty in March 2009.

Death Penalty outside the United States

The only 5 countries that execute children are Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen. all are Muslim states. [1]

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