The 10th of October was World Day against the Death Penalty.
More than 1,200 men and women have been put to death in the USA since executions resumed in 1977 after a decade without them. Three jurisdictions – Texas, Virginia, and Oklahoma – account for more than half of the country's executions.
Widney Brown, Senior Director of International Law and Policy at Amnesty International explained "The death penalty is cruel, degrading, ineffective and entirely incompatible with any concept of human dignity. Its use in the USA is marked by arbitrariness, discrimination and error." More than 130 prisoners have been released from death rows around the USA since 1976 after being found innocent – nine were freed in 2009 alone. Others have been put to death despite serious doubts over their guilt. Studies have shown that race plays a part in who receives the death penalty in the USA, with murders involving white victims more likely to result in death sentences than those involving black victims.
"Race, geography, electoral politics, local finances, jury composition, and the quality of legal representation are all problematic factors in capital cases in the USA. Being tried for a capital crime is like taking part in a lethal lottery, and it should have no place in any justice system," said Widney Brown.
There is no proof that the death penalty deters violent crime more effectively than imprisonment.