The death penalty, also known as capital punishment, is a government-imposed sanction by which a person is executed for committing an illegal offense. The United States is the only country in the Western world to retain this form of punishment. Consequently, it is the subject of much controversy. China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and the United States are responsible for the majority of the world’s executions. Most countries have abolished the death penalty.

This entry discusses key statistics surrounding the death penalty, major legal rulings relating to capital punishment, the capital trial process, capital jury decision-making, the psychological impact of imprisonment on death row, and wrongful convictions.

Methods of Execution

The most common international methods of execution are electrocution, lethal injection, the gas chamber, the firing squad, and ...

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