The United States belongs to an exclusive club of nations that put their own citizens to death

Amnesty International is out with a new report on the death penalty – showing that only 20 out of the 198 nations worldwide carried out executions last year – the United States is one of those nations. We’re also the only Western democracy to still use the death penalty. The United States ranked fifth in the world in executions in 2011 – behind nations with upstanding human rights records like China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq.

On the bright side – worldwide, the number of nations embracing the death penalty has plummeted from ten years ago – when more than thirty counties still executed their citizens. And more and more states in the United States are taking steps to abolish the death penalty.

Then again – 16 states have passed “Stand Your Ground” laws like the one that killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Florida – leaving it up to average citizens to play the role of judge, jury, and executioner on the streets.

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