There have been significant changes to the death penalty over the last thousand years. As debates continue around the world, here are some facts about the death penalty that you should know.
Warning: this article contains material that some readers may find distressing.
1. Executions often vary around the world.
Based on available technology and culture, the methods of execution can vary between different regions. Hanging, beheading, lethal injections, and firing squads are some of the standard tactics used for execution. However, a man in Saudi Arabia was recently beheaded and put on display in a practice known as crucifixion.
2. No one’s really too certain about China’s execution status.
China is known for keeping the number of people it executes a secret. Researchers use media sources that are reliable along with human rights groups to estimate the number of executions in China. According to these sources, thousands of criminals are killed each year.
3. That’s… entertainment??
There was a show called the Saturday Night Death Row Chat Show in China until 2012, where millions of people across the Henan Province in China tune in to watch a talk show where murderers are interviewed before they were executed.
4. Very few people sentenced to death actually get executed.
Execution is an unlikely outcome of the death penalty, as only 13% of the people sentenced to the death penalty are actually executed. Most either die (via natural causes or suicide) or have their sentence overturned before the execution could take place.
5. Belarus has a dubious distinction…
Belarus is the only European country that has carried out executions since 1997.
6. Some people have spent decades on death row.
Iwao Hakamade, a Japanese man, was released after spending more than 45 years on death row after the court concluded that investigators are likely to have falsified evidence during his trial back in 1968.
7. Again… entertaining?
Executions were frequent public affairs that often drew thousands of people to watch in 19th Century America. An estimated 20,000 people from around the country watched the last public execution in the USA.
8. Hanging hasn’t been a part of the British legal system for decades.
It has been more than 50 years since the last man was hanged in the United Kingdom.
9. One of the most painful ways to go.
According to a British Embassy Report in 2002, two prisoners in Uzbekistan had been executed by being boiled! It is believed that many of the 6,000 political prisoners in Uzbekistan are tortured to death.
10. Executions are expensive.
Since 1978, more than $4 billion dollars have been spent on the death penalty in California. They have executed only 13 people in that time.
11. A disturbing correlation…
Southern US, which executes more people than Northern US, Canada, and Mexico, also has the highest murder rate.
FAQs about the Death Penalty
What crimes warrant the death penalty??
In the US, there are a variety of different crimes and offenses that carry the death penalty as the highest possible punishment. These include murder, espionage, and treason.
What percentage of people on death row are innocent?
Disturbingly, an average of around 4% of people on US death row at any time are innocent of the crimes they're accused of.
Is it more expensive to imprison someone than to execute them?
Oddly enough, it actually costs the US state more money to execute someone than to imprison them for life.
Do you know any interesting facts about the Death Penalty? Share them in the comments below!