The United States of America remains one of the few remaining western democracies that still execute people for their crimes, with almost 3,000 inmates currently on death row while they wait to receive their punishment.
According to the Death Penalty Information Center, there have been 1448 executions in the United States since 1976.
Currently, out of all 50 of America's states, only 19 of them do not have the death penalty. They include Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin and District of Columbia.
The remaining 31 states, on the other hand, exercise death penalty as capital punishment in various cases. They are:
- New Hampshire
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
For those who are found guilty in states that exercise the death penalty, they face waiting for an average of 178 months between their sentencing and execution, according to The Sun.
All U.S. states use lethal injection as the primary method of execution, but different protocols are exercised from state to state. There are states which only use one drug, while there are others that use two or three. The three-drug protocol utilizes an anesthetic or sedative, which is usually followed by the injection of pancuronium bromide and potassium chloride, paralyzing the inmate and stopping the heart.
There are individuals and organization like Amnesty International who are of the opinion that capital punishment does not work in preventing the commission of crimes. For them, the death penalty is discriminatory and is disproportionately applied against the poor, minorities and members of racial, ethnic as well as religious communities. More than this, the risk of executing an innocent can never be completely avoided as well.
Recently, discussions and arguments over the implementation of death penalty grew louder when the state of Arkansas initiated an aggressive plan to kill seven inmates this month, between April 17 and 27. Effecting this plan will reportedly allow the state to use up a key execution drug which is set to expire soon.