The Federal Death Penalty
In addition to the death penalty laws in many states, the federal government has also employed capital punishment for certain federal offenses, such as murder of a government official, kidnapping resulting in death, running of a large-scale drug enterprise, and treason. When the Supreme Court struck down state death penalty statutes in Furman, the federal death penalty statutes suffered from the same constitutional infirmities that the state statutes did. As a result, death sentences under the old federal death penalty statutes have not been upheld.
A new federal death penalty statute was enacted in 1988 for murder in the course of a drug-kingpin conspiracy. The statute was modeled on the post-Gregg statutes that the Supreme Court has approved.
In 1994, President Clinton signed the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act that expanded the federal death penalty to some 60 crimes, some of which do not involve murder. There have been three federal executions under these laws: Timothy McVeigh and Juan Garza in June of 2001, and Louis Jones in March 2003.
In response to the Oklahoma City Bombing, President Clinton signed the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996. The Act, which affects both state and federal prisoners, restricts review in federal courts by establishing tighter filing deadlines, limiting the opportunity for evidentiary hearings, and ordinarily allowing only a single habeas corpus filing in federal court. Proponents of the death penalty argue that this streamlining will speed up the death penalty process and significantly reduce its cost, although others fear that quicker, more limited federal review may increase the risk of executing innocent defendants. (Bohm, 1999 and Schabas, 1997)
In April 1999, the United Nations Human Rights Commission passed a resolution supporting a worldwide moratorium on executions. The resolution calls on countries which have not abolished the death penalty to restrict its use, including not imposing it on juvenile offenders and limiting the number of offenses for which it can be imposed.
As of December 2013, 140 countries are abolitionist in law or practice, leaving just 58 countries active in the use of the death penalty. Of the thousands of known executions to take place in 2013, most were carried out by the China, Iran, Pakistan, Iraq, Sudan and the USA. (Amnesty International, 2013)
Below are lists of countries with and without the death penalty, compiled and last updated by Amnesty International December 31, 2013:
Countries which retain the death penalty for ordinary crimes
|ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA||GUYANA||SAINT KITTS & NEVIS|
|BAHRAIN||INDONESIA||SAINT VINCENT & GRENADINES|
|CONGO (Democratic Republic)||LESOTHO||TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO|
|DOMINICA||MALAYSIA||UNITED ARAB EMIRATES|
|EGYPT||NIGERIA||UNITED STATES OF AMERICA|
|EQUATORIAL GUINEA||OMAN||VIET NAM|
Countries that are abolitionist in practice
|ALGERIA||LAOS||PAPUA NEW GUINEA|
|BRUNEI DARUSSALAM||MADAGASCAR||SIERRA LEONE|
|BURKINA FASO||MALAWI||SRI LANKA|
|CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC||MALI||SWAZILAND|
Countries that are abolitionist for "ordinary crimes"
Countries that are abolitionist for all crimes
|BOLIVIA||KIRIBATI||SAO TOME AND PRINCIPE|
|CAPE VERDE||MACEDONIA (former Yugoslav Republic)||SOLOMON ISLANDS|
|COOK ISLANDS||MARSHALL ISLANDS||SPAIN|
|CROATIA||MICRONESIA (Federated States)||TIMOR-LESTE|
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