Amnesty International has released its annual report on death sentences and executions for 2012. Worldwide, 682 people were executed this past year, compared to 680 in 2011. Sentencing fell from 1,923 death sentences in 63 countries in 2011 to 1,722 in 58 countries in 2012. Amnesty International asserts that the global trend is towards abolition, and the U.S. figures certainly give such an assertion some validity. The United States is responsible for 43 executions, essentially the same as in 2011; however, only 9 states carried out executions compared to 13 in 2011. The number of new death sentences (77) was the second lowest since capital punishment was reinstated in 1976, and only occurred in 18 of 33 states retaining the death penalty. Notably, Connecticut became the 17th state to abolish the death penalty!
Amnesty International reveals some of the world’s worst offenders, and the statistics are quite shocking. Iraq’s execution rate almost doubled in 2012, and Iran has the second-highest number of executions worldwide (at least 314). China is responsible for more executions than the rest of the world combined. China’s death penalty data is considered a state secret and therefore, Amnesty International cannot publish credible information on the matter. However, the number of executions is assumed to be in the thousands. Some countries still use hanging, stoning, and beheading as means of execution. Eight countries sentenced people after eliciting confessions under duress. Also, five countries resumed executions in 2012: Botswana, Gambia, India, Japan, and Pakistan.
On a positive note, Latvia has become the 97th country to abolish the death penalty for all crimes. Additionally, in 2012, only 21 countries carried out executions as opposed to 28 in 2003.
Two Texas men who were executed in 2012 are specifically mentioned in the report: Yokamon Hearn and Johnathan Green. Hearn was sentenced for a murder he committed when he was 19. He was also thought to have a developmental mental disability that amounted to “mental retardation”, but was executed nonetheless. Green was the 248th prisoner executed in Texas under the governorship of Rick Perry. Green suffered from schizophrenia and often had severe delusions and auditory and visual hallucinations. When the state motioned to lift a stay of execution, neither the US Supreme Court nor Governor Rick Perry intervened.
Amnesty International’s Death Sentences and Executions 2012 is available online at: http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/ACT50/001/2013/en/bbfea0d6-39b2-4e5f-a1ad-885a8eb5c607/act500012013en.pdf