In September 2011, after ten years on death row, inmate Troy Davis was executed in the US state of Georgia. After the majority of witnesses in the case retracted their original statements, Davis' sentence sparked a torrent of media coverage and international protests. At the same time, in Texas, white supremacist Lawrence Brewer was executed for the racially-motivated murder of James Byrd Jr. These two very different cases illustrate the debate surrounding the death penalty in the US. Here are just some of the facts and figures:
- In the US, the death penalty is used as punishment for capital offences such as first-degree murder.
- Of the 50 US states, 35 use the death penalty. New Mexico abolished the death penalty in 2009, but the act was not retroactive, leaving two prisoners awaiting execution.
- Since 1973, over 130 people have been released from death row with evidence of their innocence.
- California, Florida, and Texas hold the most death