Criminal executions have been on the decline for decades in the United States, but the U.S. has not abolished executions. Currently, there are 57 countries that retain the death penalty for ordinary crimes. And there are 105 countries have abolished executions. 

Death Penalty Information Center

Yesterday, Attorney General William Barr reinstated the federal death penalty after almost twenty-years and scheduled five executions for the end of the year.

Around sixty inmates are currently on federal death row, but some are still pursuing legal appeals, including convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, convicted of setting off a bomb at the Boston Marathon in 2013. Dylann Roof, sentenced to death for killing nine black worshipers on June 2015 at the Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, is also among the inmates on federal death row.

Data on the Death Penalty in the United States

According to the Death Penalty Information Center report, the federal death penalty was instituted in 1988. Three people have been executed under federal authority, with the last federal execution taking place in 2003.

Critics of the federal death penalty argue that it is plagued by many of the same problems as state death-penalty systems, including racial bias (55% of defendants sentenced to death in the last decade were people of color), geographical arbitrariness (just three states – Virginia, Texas, and Missouri – are responsible for nearly half of all federal death-row prisoners), and disparities in the quality and funding of defense counsel.

Death Penalty Information Center

Since 1977, there have been about 1500 executions in the U.S. and data collected by the Death Penalty Information Center, on all executions from 1976 until present, illustrates that racial bias is not as prevalent as critics argue.

Executions by race, Death Penalty Information Center

Number of Victims refers to the victims in the underlying murder in cases where an execution has occurred since the restoration of the death penalty in 1976. There are more victims than executions because some cases involve more than one victim.


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