death penalty news----ARK., OKLA., USA
(too old to reply)
Rick Halperin
2017-04-13 14:38:01 UTC
April 13


3 Arkansas reporters to witness deaths----Crush of journalists from elsewhere
expected at prison

3 Arkansas journalists will be allowed to witness each execution at the Cummins
Unit this month, and prison system officials are preparing for a media
contingent from around the globe.

The state Department of Correction sent out Wednesday a revised version of its
media protocol for executions, providing details on how information about the 7
planned deaths will be transmitted to the public.

In addition to those who witness the lethal injection unfold, other reporters
from state, national and international news outlets will be allowed to set up
in a media center at the prison, where they will have access to 2 phones to
call outside, according to the document.

Media will be allowed to broadcast from the prison parking lot and from a
roadblock set up on Arkansas 388.

Journalists will be barred from taking any electronic devices into the prison,
with the exception of audio recorders and cameras.

The document says only credentialed journalists from Arkansas news
organizations -- 1 print reporter; a radio, Web or TV reporter; and a member of
The Associated Press -- will be allowed into the witness room.

Reporters witnessing the execution firsthand will be required to sign a form
agreeing not to attempt to record any part of the execution.

The 1st execution is to begin at 7 p.m. Monday.

Kelly Kissel, state editor for The Associated Press, said the news service
plans to send a reporter to observe each execution. The Arkansas
Democrat-Gazette also plans to have its staff cover the executions.

The death penalty in Arkansas -- last carried out in 2005 -- has traditionally
been covered almost exclusively by the local press, Kissel said.

The scheduling of 7 executions -- 8 were originally scheduled before 1 was
blocked by a federal judge -- over an 11-day period has attracted much wider

Newspapers in New York and Los Angeles have dedicated coverage to the
executions. In recent weeks, journalists from Germany, Norway and the United
Kingdom have descended upon the state, attending clemency hearings and court

A crew from the British Broadcasting Corporation was in Little Rock on
Wednesday filming a documentary.

Prisons spokesman Solomon Graves said media requests also have come into his
office from France, Canada, Sweden and Japan. It is the most media attention
the department has received in his 14 months on the job, Graves said.

Furonda Brasfield, executive director of the Arkansas Coalition to Abolish the
Death Penalty, said she has been getting daily calls from journalists across
the United States and Europe, where most countries have abolished the death

"It is unbelievable the press coverage and the worldwide concern and outrage,"
Brasfield said.

The media center where reporters will be stationed will be at the prison's
visitation center, which can normally accommodate more than 100 people, Graves

Graves said the department will not know how many outlets or reporters plan to
cover the executions until they arrive at the prison Monday. He said there are
no plans as of Wednesday for a cap.

A crush of reporters trying to file stories simultaneously around the world
could prove to be a problem if they are all routed through 2 telephones, said
Democrat-Gazette Managing Editor David Bailey.

"They're imposing old-fashioned requirements on a pretty modern situation,"
Bailey said.

In Oklahoma, where executions have been conducted in recent years, Kissel said
reporters are allowed to take in laptops that can be hooked up to the Internet,
which allows reporters to file stories throughout the process.

He said the last time Arkansas had an execution, reporters in the media center
were allowed laptops. That was more than 11 years ago, when cellular coverage
in the prison's rural area of Lincoln County was scant.

Bailey said the newspaper has asked the department to reconsider its
prohibition on electronics and allow reporters more options for filing within
the prison.

Graves stood by the policy.

"We are providing the resources we are able to provide, and we feel those are
sufficient," Graves said.

Other restrictions normally imposed on visitors to the prison also will apply
for media covering the executions. For example, reporters will not be allowed
to take tobacco past the walls.

(source: Arkansas Online)


Verify: What's the true cost of the death penalty?----What's the cost of the
death penalty?

Whether you're for or against the death penalty, there is a heavy cost
associated with the care of death row inmates. We wanted to verify the truth of
it all by looking at the cost of execution versus incarceration. We ran across
study after study on execution costs from many states. They all said the same
thing; it costs 2 to 4 times more to work death penalty cases and fulfill
processes associated with the death penalty. But, we could not find a single
study done specifically here in Arkansas.

Neither could Robert Lytle, a Criminal Justice Assistant Professor at UA Little
Rock. He told us there are thousands of dollars in costs the public doesn't
think about. Costs such as additional attorneys and investigators. He added,
while the state may save money by not having to care for a prisoner after their
execution, there's a lot of spending and legal costs that it takes just to get
to the day of execution.

The Arkansas Department of Correction said it costs an average of $22,086 to
house a prisoner each year. For death row inmates, it's slightly more, $24,820.
So to house the 34 people on death row each year, the state pays about

"If we execute these people there may be some short term cost savings for those
people, but when you look at the process as a whole, those savings are a lot
less," said Lytle.

The execution is a lengthy, costly process that can't be argued.

"The bulk of the cost comes at trial," said Lytle.

Arkansas Public Defender Commission Director, Gregg Parrish, told us the
Arkansas Public Defender Commission took on 46 capital murder cases during the
2015-2016 fiscal year.

"As attorneys we have to presume that death is being sought until it is waved
in record or by the prosecuting attorney," said Parrish.

He said each case can vary in price drastically, but based on his experience
and knowledge, he roughly estimated that to work a case where the death penalty
is sought, you're looking at an additional $75,000 to $100,000 from their
agency. That's because of the additional factors that go into working a death
penalty case.

"We must, by law, appoint 2 attorneys, 2 death qualified attorneys, and there's
only a limited number of those in Arkansas," Parrish said. "We must also
appoint an investigator, we must appoint a mitigation specialist, that
specialist looks at the background of the accused."

Additional costs go into all of the extra factors and some can be significant.
Parrish added if the offender is from another country, for example, a
mitigation specialist must visit to find out everything about their upbringing.
That itself can be a hefty cost and it's these extra protections that can't be

"The reason why we have all these extra things that cost so much money is
because the U.S. Supreme Court has said that basically those are the rules you
have to play by," Lytle said. "If you're going to have a death penalty, you
have to have these extra protections in place."

If the state decided to seek capital punishment in all 46 cases last year, the
state would have to pay an estimated $3.5 to 4.6 million dollars more compared
to non-death penalty cases.

"As long as death is in play, we're going to spend some more money, no doubt
about it," said Parrish.

After a trial, there are often multiple appeals, new trials, and standard legal
proceedings in death penalty cases. The executions scheduled now are coming
about 20 years after sentencing.

"There's a reason it goes on 20 years, 30 years, or longer. There's a reason
federal courts overturn death sentences, there's a reason why there's
re-sentencing, so we have to continuously deal with that," said Parrish.

While most of the spending comes at the forefront of a case, there is also
money being spent now to fulfill the executions. There's the cost to conduct
the clemency hearings, the last minute court hearings, the drugs used, and the
people needed to carry it all out, but the Department of Correction said they
don't put a price on life, so they don't maintain data on the cost to carry out
a death sentence.

In the end, the costs of being put to death versus imprisonment can be debated,
but there can be no price tag placed on the pain endured by the families

(source: KTHV-TV news)


Doctor tells U.S. court drug not suitable for Arkansas executions

A surgeon told a federal court in Arkansas on Wednesday that a sedative the
state plans to use in its lethal injection mix is not suitable for surgery and
should be prohibited when Arkansas holds an unprecedented series of executions
later this month.

Arkansas plans to kill 8 prisoners in dual executions over 11 days from April
17, although a federal judge has halted 1 execution. Death penalty opponents
have said the rushed schedule is reckless and increases the chance of errors.

The European Union on Wednesday called on Arkansas to commute the death

The convicted murderers scheduled to die have asked U.S. District Judge
Kristine Baker in Little Rock to halt their executions, saying the state's rush
to the death chamber was unconstitutional. Baker set a Thursday deadline for

Lawyers for Arkansas, which has not had an execution in 12 years, have told the
court that the drug in question, midazolam, has been used in executions in
other states and its lethal injection protocols pass constitutional muster.

Jonathan Groner, a professor at Ohio State University's medical school and a
specialist in pediatrics and trauma, testified that he has never used midazolam
as the primary anesthetic in thousands of operations he has performed.

"It would be malpractice for me to do an appendectomy using midazolam as an
anesthetic," he said. He was a witness for the inmates and on cross examination
said he was a death penalty opponent.

When the number of executions was rising in the late 1990s, several states held
double and even triple executions on the same day, including Arkansas.

At that time, a powerful sedative was part of the mix but since then, major
pharmaceutical companies have banned sales to states for executions. This
caused a scramble for new mixes, including combinations with midazolam, which
has been used in flawed executions in states including Oklahoma and Arizona
where witnesses said inmates writhed in pain on death chamber gurneys.

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, a Republican, set the schedule, saying the
state's midazolam supply expires at the end of April and it was in the interest
of justice to hold as many executions as possible while Arkansas has the
difficult-to-obtain drug.

Separately, Ohio has asked the entire U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth
Circuit to re-consider a decision last week from a three-judge panel from that
court blocking the state's lethal injection process, the attorney general's
office said.

(source: Reuters)


All lives aren't equal to secular progressives

Nearly 3 dozen men sit on death row in Arkansas, where capital punishment has
been suspended since 2005. Unless clemency is granted, 7 of them, an 8th man
was granted a temporary reprieve, will be given lethal injections all within a
10-day period, between April 17 and 27.

Why so many? Why the rush?

The New York Times reports that the unprecedented pace is "brought about by a
looming expiration date for a drug used by the state for lethal injections."
The drug is midazolam, "which has been used in several botched and gruesome
lethal injections in other states in recent years." Because of the controversy
surrounding midazolam's use, "a number of pharmaceutical companies have
restricted their drugs from use for capital punishment."

Anti-death penalty groups are upset and the state is having difficulty
acquiring a sufficient number of witnesses, as required by law.

These are "bad hombres," as President Trump might describe them. Many of them
have been on death row for more than 20 years while the appeals process ground
on and relatives of their victims have waited for justice to be served.

Don Davis, now 54, was sentenced to death in 1992. He is to be executed April
17. Davis was convicted of shooting 62-year-old Jane Daniel in the back of the
head while robbing her home, even though she complied with his demands to hand
over her valuables.

Bruce Earl Ward, 60, is also slated for execution April 17. He's been on death
row since 1990 after being convicted of murdering 18-year-old Rebecca Doss at a
Little Rock convenience store where she worked the night shift. The court heard
testimony that Ward drove around town looking for a victim and strangled the
young woman in the store bathroom.

In 1993, Stacey E. Johnson, now 47, raped, beat, strangled and then slit the
throat of Carol Heath, a mother of 2. Heath was attacked in her home. The Sun
newspaper reported her daughter, Ashley, then 6, "was found staring out her
bedroom window the following morning ... having spent the night knowing her
mother was dead in the room next door."

The list goes on, but this is their common profile.

Now for the innocent.

According to the Arkansas Department of Health, 3,771 abortions took place in
the state in 2015, a slight drop from the previous year, part of the more than
59 million abortions performed in the United States since the passage of Roe v.
Wade in 1973. Where is the anti-death penalty crowd's compassion for those
babies and the many women who say they regretted their decision to terminate
their pregnancies and would have made a different choice had they received
additional information?

Those opposed to capital punishment can certainly gin-up outrage and sympathy
for convicted murderers and rapists, but seem to offer very little sympathy to
the relatives of their victims and not an ounce of outrage for the innocent
unborn who have been aborted.

Is this an unfair comparison? Not at all. Consider this. Many oppose the death
penalty because they claim all human life has value. Then is not an innocent
unborn human life? How is an unborn baby any less valuable than a convicted
rapist or murderer?

For secular-progressives, opposition to the death penalty appears to be based
largely on sentiment, not on the intrinsic value of life. Yes, there are
reasons to oppose the death penalty. It can often be unequally applied. I get
that. But I'm speaking of the larger moral issue.

In the end, capital punishment is a matter of justice and just deserts. It is
justice for the dead and his or her relatives and it is just deserts for the
murderer. On several occasions I have offered people opposed to the death
penalty a deal. I will oppose capital punishment for the guilty, if they will
oppose "capital punishment" for the innocent unborn.

I am still waiting to hear from them.

(source: Column; Xal Thomas, The Columbus Dispatch)


Death Penalty Legislation In Arkansas Ahead of Executions

All eyes are on Arkansas as the state is scheduled to execute 7 men in a ten
day period. State Representative Rebecca Petty hopes to one day witness an
execution with her daughter's killer currently on death row.

"The BBC, Al-Jazzera America, LA Times, Washington Post. What I feel like is
that Arkansas is on some sort of world stage and we're being looked at," said

"He drove her ten miles down an old logging road to Cove Arkansas and he raped
and strangled her to death," said Petty.

A jury sentenced Andi Brewer's killer, her uncle, Karl Roberts to death in
2000. Prior to 2015, victim's families could not watch the lethal injection
process in person. They had to watch on a closed circuit TV. Petty worked to
pass "Andi's Law" in 2015. It allows families of vicim's to watch the
execution, through a glass window.

"In my case, I thought, I gave birth to her, I taught her to walk and talk and
I paid for her funeral and I fought for her I should have the right to choose
how I deal with this. If I wanna go, I should be able to go. If I don't, I
don't have to," said Petty.

Last month, Petty also helped pass legislation that will change death
certificates for death row inmates. If Arkansas goes through with its scheduled
executions, the death certificates will list their cause of death as lethal
injection. Previous executions have labeled the death certificates as

"In a sense, it turned the inmate into a homicide victim, and what had happened
to them was because of something they had done," said Petty.

Petty views the back to back executions as a time of closure for all the
victim's families.

(source: KNWA news)


Prosecutors to seek death penalty against Arkansas man accused of killing wife,

Prosecutors will seek the death penalty against a Garland County man arrested
in 2015 in the shooting deaths of his wife and daughter, the Hot Springs
Sentinel-Record reported Tuesday.

Charges against 57-year-old Eric Allen Reid were upgraded to capital murder
during a hearing Monday in Garland County Circuit Court, the newspaper
reported, noting Reid then pleaded not guilty to the new counts. Reid had
previously pleaded not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect to charges
of 1st-degree murder.

Reid is accused of killing his wife, Laura J. Reid, 57, and his daughter, Mary
Ann Reid, 32, on Oct. 20, 2015, at the family's home at 607 Northwood Trail
north of Hot Springs.

A motion filed by prosecutors indicated Eric Allen Reid should be executed if
convicted because he "knowingly created a great risk of death to a person other
than the victim or caused the death of more than 1 person in the same criminal
episode," according to the Sentinel-Record story.

Investigator Terry Threadgill in 2015 characterized it as "a family squabble
that got way out of control."

(source: arkansasonline.com)


Killing Richard Glossip: Investigation Discovery's 2-Night Event is a Matter of
Innocence, Life and Death

In late fall of 2014, Denver defense attorney Don Knight had just pulled up to
a barbecue joint when his cellphone rang. On the line: Sister Helen Prejean.
The same Sister Helen whose tireless work to end the death penalty made her the
subject of 1995's critically acclaimed feature film Dead Man Walking. Prejean
was calling about Richard Glossip. And the makings of Investigation Discovery's
chilling 2-night event, Killing Richard Glossip, were set into motion.

In 1997, Glossip - an Oklahoma City motel manager and father of 4 with no
felony record - was named the mastermind of a vicious murder. Glossip's
coworker, Justin Sneed, admitted that he alone killed the motel's owner, Barry
Van Treese, and only Sneed;s fingerprints were found at the murder scene. In a
bid to avoid execution, Sneed implicated Glossip in the crime and was sentenced
to life without parole. Glossip - steadfast about his innocence - rejected 2
plea deals and was ordered to die by lethal injection. For the past 20 years,
Glossip has lived in a windowless, underground cell, suspended in a nightmarish
limbo that has seen him tried twice, marched to the edge of death 3 times, and
Oklahoma's execution methods debated in the Supreme Court and beyond.

"There was a group that started a petition for Richard that brought it to my
attention, and there was a phone number on it," Prejean recalls of her own
introduction to Glossip and his plight. "I called the woman and she set up a
phone call with Richard." With Glossip's newest execution date looming, Prejean
convinced Knight and his partner Mark Olive to take his case pro bono. And in
the summer of 2016, Joe Berlinger - whose Oscar-nominated, Emmy-winning
Paradise Lost documentaries famously contributed to the release of the West
Memphis Three after nearly 2 decades of wrongful imprisonment - got wind of the

Berlinger knew he had to work quickly. "When I started to drill into the case
facts and details, I couldn't turn away - because, to me, this case is the
poster child for everything that's wrong with the death penalty," Berlinger
says. "I felt I had to meet the challenge." And, in doing so, convince Knight
and Olive to let him and his cameras follow them in real time as they race
against the clock to prove Glossip's innocence

"You have to understand that, from our standpoint, the ethical aspects of it
are we can't let everybody else in, in a situation where we are keeping all of
our information very close," Knight says (Olive chose not to appear on camera).
"We had to ask Rich if that was all right, and he wanted it. But they are not
part of our team; they are literally a sort of outside force. And they were
also doing other aspects of their own investigation that we didn t have
anything to do with. So it was OK."

To flesh out a complex, 20-year-old story, Berlinger says he "had to rely more
on re-creation than I have in the past to bring those 2 different conflicting
versions of the accounts of what happened that night to life. It's 2 men with
very different versions of what they say is reality." And, he is quick to point
out, "despite my personal opinions about his guilt or innocence, this is not an
advocacy piece." Instead, it's an education.

"I think why it's so important to get a story like this out is you have a power
system in place with politics and money feeding it, and they have their way
with human beings," Prejean exclaims. "They found in the United States, of all
the counties and districts and prosecutors, 2 % are responsible for over 70 %
of all people on death row. How do you break that? The only way you break that
is us."

Knight hopes for a more immediate payout. "I want witnesses," he says. "I need
people to come forward, because Richard is innocent and we need to get enough
witnesses to get us back into court. So my one wish is that people who know or
have heard or think they have an idea - come forward."

(source: channelguidemag.com)


Dylann Roof threatened to kill his renowned death penalty lawyer, David Bruck

In the middle of his death penalty trial, Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof
threatened to kill his nationally-known capital punishment lawyer, David Bruck.

"The defendant informed Mr. Bruck that he hates him, and that if he gets out of
jail he plans to come to Mr. Bruck's house and kill him," Bruck and 2 members
of his legal team wrote in a declaration on Jan. 1, 2017.

The lawyers gave their seven-page sworn declaration to U.S. Judge Richard
Gergel, who kept it under seal until earlier this week, when he began unsealing
records kept secret to avoid publicity that might influence Roof's right to a
fair trial.

Bruck, based at Washington & Lee Law School, is a nationally-known death
penalty lawyer who spent much of his early career in South Carolina. He and
fellow teams of anti-death penalty lawyers have won reversals of numerous death
penalty cases in South Carolina and across the nation. Gergel appointed him
specially for this case because, Gergel has said, he wanted the best lawyer

On Jan. 1, Roof, then 22, a self-avowed white supremacist from the Columbia
area, was in the Charleston County jail and having periodic visits from his
court-appointed lawyers, all highly experienced in complex capital punishment

2 weeks earlier, a federal jury had found Roof guilty of the 2015 hate crime
killings of 9 African-Americans at a historic downtown Charleston church.

On Jan. 2, a Monday, Judge Gergel held a closed, daylong hearing to determine
if Roof was mentally competent to represent himself during the then-upcoming
death phase of his trial.

After the hearing, Gergel announced that Roof "remains competent to stand trial
and self-represent." He also ruled that the Bruck and his legal team could sit
at Roof's defense table and advise him on legal points if Roof wished.

On Jan. 4, the death penalty phase of Roof's trial began. And on Jan. 10, the
same jury that had in December found Roof guilty of the execution-style
killings at Mother Emanuel AME Church unanimously ruled that he should be

Roof presented no witnesses during either phase of the trial and rejected his
lawyers' advice to let them present numerous witnesses and other evidence that
would have shown that Roof was severely mentally ill, suffering from obsessive
false delusions about African-Americans and the purported need to establish a
new America based on white supremacy.

In their declaration given to Gergel, Bruck and 2 colleagues, attorneys Emily
Paavola and Kimberly Stevens, gave numerous observations about how Roof related
to reality:

-- Roof believes that Judge Gergel liked him because "he smiled at him and how
the Court's affection for him will shift the 'universal consciousness' in the
room in his favor and will impact how other people in court will feel about

-- Roof said he "does not believe he will be sentenced to death because
'people aren't that mean' and the jurors will like him."

-- Roof said that even if he is sentenced to death, he won't be executed
because he is "too special. The defendant said that he can stop the execution
by simply crying before they stick the needle in his arm." (Roof's lawyers told
him that "never in this history of the American death penalty had an execution
ever been stopped because the defendant was crying.")

-- Roof said he "did not want a young, attractive woman on his jury because
this would increase his anxiety."

-- Roof didn't like it when his lawyers objected to prosecution testimony that
described Roof as "evil." Roof "stated that he believed the more witnesses
called him evil, the more the jurors would feel sorry for him and vote for

Before closing arguments in the trial's 1st phase, Roof told lawyer Stevens
that his sweater had been washed with too much detergent and told her, "You are
trying to kill me."

-- After the trial's closing arguments in the guilt phase, Roof was "angry at
Mr. Bruck for giving a 'bad' closing argument." He told Bruck he should have
told the jury to search on the Internet for information about how dangerous
black people were to white people.

-- Roof rejected a defense witness, Father John Parker, an Orthodox priest,
because Parker declined to promise that he wouldn't tell the jury that Roof has
mental illness issues.

Documents unsealed earlier this week showed that Roof believed that in the
future, white supremacists would take over America and he would be discredited
if he allowed any evidence to come in his trial that showed he was mentally

Bruck, who has declined comment about Roof's behavior, could not be reached
Wednesday afternoon.

(source: The State)


US drops out of top 5 death penalty countries in the world

In the US, the number of people executed - 20 - fell to levels not seen since
1991, according to an Amnesty International report. Worldwide, use of capital
punishment dropped by 37 %.

Capital punishment fell by more than 1/3 around the world last year - and the
United States dropped out of the top 5 countries for the 1st time in a decade.

That was the finding of Amnesty International's annual report on the world's
death sentences and executions in 2016. Compared with 2015, the human rights
group found that capital punishment had decreased by 37 percent. In the US, the
number of people executed - 20 - fell to levels not seen since 1991. The drop
marks the 1st time since 2006 that the US has not been in the top 5.

Over the past few decades, the international view of capital punishment has
shifted considerably, with more than two thirds of all nations no longer
supporting the death penalty, either legally or in practice. But some
countries, particularly China, Iran, and the US, maintain the practice as a
legal mode of punishment.

The debate surrounding the death penalty in the US is a contentious one. Last
fall, for instance, voters in California, Nebraska, and Oklahoma decided to
keep the penalty legal in their respective states, despite overall support for
the death penalty reaching lows not seen since it was reinstated in the 1970s.
But that ambivalence might not remain for much longer, according to Robert
Owen, a law professor at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.

"The continuing decline in executions in the United States results from a
combination of factors," he tells the Monitor via email. "For example, innocent
people continue to be identified and released from death row, which
understandably undermines support for capital punishment. Also, historic
concerns about racial injustice in the administration of the death penalty are
once again receiving attention with the rise of activist movements such as
Black Lives Matter."

Professor Owen says that another, less ideological factor in the decline of the
death penalty is an ongoing shortage of lethal injection drugs in the US, which
in some cases led to drug cocktails that created botched executions that have
"contributed to the growing skepticism" toward the practice.

In order to contend with these shortages, however, many states, especially in
the South, have legalized older methods, such as gas chambers, electric chairs,
or firing squads. Arkansas plans to execute an unprecedented seven prisoners
over 11 days starting next week in order to beat the upcoming expiration date
of the state's remaining lethal injection drugs.

Most states occupy a middle position on the death penalty: Often, they will
sentence criminals to death, but not actually carry out the execution.

"Recent polling shows the lowest level of support for the death penalty since
the 1970s," says Griffin Hardy, communications coordinator for the Ministry
Against the Death Penalty, a Catholic anti-capital punishment group, in a phone
interview. "Referenda on the death penalty in California, Nebraska, and
Oklahoma may indicate continued public support for keeping the death penalty on
the books, but it is worth noting that each of these states faces significant
obstacles in resuming executions. The death penalty is an empty promise to
victims' families in the majority of states that legally retain the option to
execute prisoners."

Hardy says that the death penalty in the US is on the way out - not a question
of "if," but "when."

But countries like China, the No. 1 executor of criminals, may not let go of
practice as quickly.

"China retains the death penalty as a legal punishment for a wide range of
crimes, including some nonviolent offenses [and political suppression]," Hardy
says. "It is difficult to gauge trends in China's use of the death penalty due
to the scarcity of statistics, but it seems that the number of executions is
down from the ten-thousands to the thousands."

By comparison, Iran, which holds the No. 2 spot, executed 567 people last year.
In 3rd place is Saudi Arabia, with 154 executions, with Iraq trailing in 4th
place, with 88.

"A record high number of executions were carried out worldwide in 2015, so the
decrease in 2016 must be viewed in that context," Mr. Hardy points out.

While the US is not the only country in the Americas to assign the death
penalty to criminals in 2016, it is the only country in the region to have
actually carried out the death penalty in the past eight years, according to
the Amnesty report. In the US, 2,832 people were living on death row as of the
end of 2016.

"Use of the death penalty in the USA is at its lowest since the early 1990s,"
said Salil Shetty, secretary general of Amnesty International, in a statement.
"But we have to fight to keep it that way."

(source: Christian Science Monitor)

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