While the death penalty has been long off the books in much of the civilized world, the United States has for the most part continued the practice. Well, before the recession that is.
The death penalty is slowly being abolished in the United States due not to any moral opposition, but due to simple economics: it’s actually cheaper to jail a man for life then stick a needle in his arm. The cost comes not from the actual death itself, but the appeals process, which can sometimes drag on for 20 years or even longer. Lawyers love it, but it’s nearly as unhealthy for State coffers as it is the condemned man.
New Jersey has already dropped the death penalty, and Colorado and Kansas are currently debating similar legislation. In other jurisdictions such as New Mexico, the death penalty remains on the books, but is effectively dead as prosecutors no longer have the financial support to pursue death penalty cases.