How we compare – death penalty laws nationwide

Infographic by Lindsey Linge
Infographic by Lindsey Linge

While human rights activists around the world debate the ethics surrounding capital punishment, 35 states in the U.S. continue to offer the death penalty as a sentence for capital offenses.

Ronnie Lee Gardner is facing execution in June 2010, and his chosen method of death by firing squad is striking up the controversy once again. Utah passed a law in 2004 which banned the use of firing squad for inmates on death row, allowing it only for inmates who chose this method prior to its elimination. Oklahoma remains the only state to offer the firing squad in circumstances where lethal injection or electrocution are found unconstitutional.

Lethal injection is the primary method of choice for all states which still authorize the death penalty. However, death by electrocution, gas chamber, hanging, and firing squad are still options in 15 of those states.

New Mexico abolished the death penalty in 2009. The action was not retroactive and two inmates still remain on death row. In addition to the 35 states which still exercise capital punishment, the U.S. Government and U.S. Military also utilize the death penalty.

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