While many countries around the world have banned the death penalty, the same is not true for the United States, as evidenced by the 9 states with the most total executions in 2020. The death penalty has been around for thousands of years. In fact, it was the go to punishment for dozens of crimes, including some which aren’t even crimes anymore. If you find that hard to believe, just think that a dozen years from now, people will marvel how you could get extremely harsh sentences for simple possession of marijuana, now that it’s being legalized across the world and in several states in the US as well.
The death penalty gained significant traction in the United States in the 17th century, increased in the 18th and 19th century, and just exploded exponentially in the 20th century. While the executions barely touched 4,000 by the end of the 19th century, they nearly reached 8,000 in the 20th century.
But then 1972 happened. While 5 years had already passed without any execution taking place, in 1972, the case of Furman v Georgia took place, where the US Supreme Court’s decision led to all death sentences at the time to be commuted to life imprisonment and led to the belief that the death penalty would no longer be applied in the US. Of course, that didn’t really last, and in 1976, 37 states enacted new statues pertaining to the death penalty, and after some controversies, the first execution took place in 1977.
The death penalty has been extremely controversial in recent years, especially in the 21st century as many argue that it is against human rights. I have to agree with this belief especially considering how flawed the justice system is and the fact that so many people are wrongly convicted. A study determined that at least 4% of people on death row are innocent. That may not seem like a major variance, but when you’re talking about human lives, every single one counts.
Since 1976, when the death penalty was reinstated, 1,518 executions have taken place in 35 states. More than half, or 794 executions, have taken place in just three states. While the death penalty hasn’t been abolished, its usage has greatly decreased since the 1990s, with an 85% decline in death sentences and 75% decline in executions. In 2019, 22 executions took place, more information on which can be found in 7 states that allow death penalty and had executions in 2019. Till then, let’s take a look at the states with the most total executions, starting with number 9: