According to Amnesty International, the United States was the world’s fifth most productive executioner in 2013, right after China, Iran, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia. But despite our high-ranking killer cred, a recent Pew Research Center poll shows that the percentage of Americans who actually favor the death penalty has significantly plummeted since 1996.
By Pew’s numbers, where some 78% of Americans supported capital punishment for a person convicted of murder in the mid-‘90s, only 55% of Americans feel similarly today. On the flip-side, the fraction of people opposing the death penalty has spiked. In 1996, 18% of Americans actively opposed capital punishment, but today, 37% of the country doesn’t think we should execute convicted murderers.
Some states, of course, prefer the death penalty more than others, as you can see on the map. While overall executions have decreased in the United States, Texas carried out 41% of the country’s capital punishments in 2013, an increase from 34% of the share the previous year.
The United States remains the only country in the North and South Americas that still carries out executions, and Maryland became the 18th state to abolish the practice in 2013. Neither Europe nor Central Asia reported any executions last year.