United States 5th on Global List for Number of Executions

H. Scott English

New York City, NY. - Amnesty International announced Monday that The United States was the only Western democracy that executed prisoners last year. The report noted that several States had moved to abolish capital punishment.

America's 43 executions in 2011 ranked it fifth in the world in capital punishment. Amnesty compiles a yearly report on the state of the death penalty world wide.

Suzanne Nossel, executive director of Amnesty International USA, told The Associated Press,

"If you look at the company we're in globally, it's not the company we want to be in: China, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq. Our government has made a very strong point of trying to reassert its position as a standard-bearer on human rights globally. When other countries look at the United States, the use of the death penalty really stands out a lot in the mind of Europeans and others around the world. We're in such incongruous company."

Texas Gov. Rick Perry was cheered at a Republican presidential candidates' debate last September when he defended his signature on 234 execution warrants over more than 10 years as being the "ultimate justice."

Yet people turn out by the thousands to protest executions where the evidence seems to be thin or witnesses recant.

Nossell said,

"I think the debate on the issue may be nearing a tipping point in this country I think we're seeing momentum at the state level, in the direction of waning support for the death penalty."

34 States still have the death penalty on the books (although most of them do not use it).