Death penalty rates are going up after being at historically low rates

The United States is one of only four countries throughout the world — the others being Taiwan, Japan and Singapore — that still practice capital punishment. It's been a rough year for many states who had planned on performing executions, like in Ohio where the execution of 69-year-old Alva Campbell was called off because "vein could not be found."

In Arkansas the first double execution to happen in the country in 16 years was performed, but not without troubles of their own. It initially took 45 minutes to find a suitable vein to insert the drug cocktail into Jack Jones and the event was criticized as taking too long and being too painful. Following the executions, Asa Hutchinson, the Republican Governor of the state, announced that there would be another eight executions spanning just 11 days. He wanted to use up the rest of the execution drugs, but half of the scheduled executions were halted in court.

Surprisingly enough, the Department of Corrections in Arizona invited people on death row to supply their own drugs for their executions, something that's both incredibly dangerous and illegal.

There are some states where executions have been stayed, such as Colorado, Montana, Oregon and Washington, and in some other states there haven't been cases of capital punishment in decades. Setting a temporary ban on this type of punishment, however, doesn't mean it won't continue in the future.

Death Penalty in the United States

The good news is that in previous years, the number of executions has been decreasing by quite a significant amount. But even with all these stays and moratoriums on executions being put into place, capital punishment is on an upward tick this year.

In the past the numbers have gone down because the drugs used to execute people have become more scarce, with some states even resorting to importing them illegally. There are also some states, such as Arizona, that are attempting to hide the sources of their execution drugs.

Use of the death penalty peaked in 1999 and since then has been on a downward slope, which can be attributed to several different things. Life without parole has become a sentencing option and viable alternative in some places to the use of execution, and because of the public's perception of punishing someone for their crimes in this way, both prosecutors and juries have become more selective in which defendants are sentenced to death.

📊: Death Penalty Information Centre