The United States executed fewer people last year than it had in any year since 2008. Even with that decline, it was still among the five countries that executed the most people in 2013.
That’s according to a new Amnesty International report released this week. The report shows that the number of reported executions was up nearly 15 percent last year over the year before (a figure that doesn’t include China, for reasons my colleague Adam Taylor explains over at World Views).
The U.S. comes in at No. 5 on the list behind China, Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia:
The death penalty’s use in the United States has declined fairly significantly in recent years. Between 1997 and 2005, the U.S. averaged 71.7 executions each year (only dipping below 60 executions in one year over that span — 2004). Since then, the U.S. averaged 44.3 executions per year between 2006 and 2013 (only executing more than 50 people twice over that span).
To put that another way: The U.S. killed more than twice as many people in 1999 alone (98) than it did in six of the last eight years.
Currently, 32 states have the death penalty in the U.S. But that number is falling: Six of the 18 states that don’t have the death penalty have abolished it since 2007 (Maryland becoming the most recent last year).
A majority of Americans support the death penalty, with 60 percent saying they favored it for convicted murderers in a Gallup poll last year. That number is also dropping: It’s the lowest level of support found by Gallup since 1972, the year 57 percent of Americans supported the death penalty.