Executions in 2009

My feeling is that the problems with the US criminal justice system are sufficiently broad-based that a narrow-minded focus on capital punishment is a bit misguided. Still, it’s always striking that the company we keep by executing criminals is not good company. Meanwhile, the actual phenomenon of execution is incredibly concentrated.

Globally:

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China executed more people last year than the rest of the world combined, according to a report published Tuesday by Amnesty International, as the rights group called on Beijing to divulge how many executions it carries out.

And domestically:

The United States was the only country in the Americas to execute anyone in 2009, according to the report, which said the 52 executions were the highest total in three years. Nearly half the executions, 24, came in Texas, while New Mexico officially banned the death penalty.

Obviously part of the story is just that a lot of people live in Texas, but it’s also an unusually brutality-oriented political culture over there.