Death Penalty: As World Awaits Bali Nine Executions, Some Facts You Should Know

The use of the death penalty is a controversial subject. On Saturday the ringleaders of the Bali Nine drug smuggling gang were given a 72-hour warning that they will be put to death by firing squad. A 72-hour notice period is required under Indonesian law before the death penalty can be executed. This means that Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran could be put to death by firing squad early tomorrow morning. Chan and Sukumaran were sentenced to the death penalty after being convicted of attempting to smuggle eight kilograms of heroin from Bali to Australia in 2006.

According to the BBC Indonesian President Joko Widodo is under pressure from around the world to commute the death penalty sentence in the “Bali Nine” case. Many feel that the death penalty is unnecessary in a non-capital case, but Indonesia argues that the death penalty is necessary for drug smugglers as a deterrent because 30 Indonesian citizens are believed to die from drug abuse every day. That adds up to over 50,000 deaths a year, something Indonesia regards as a national crisis.

President Joko Widodo has promised the Indonesian people that he will never grant clemency or commute sentences in death penalty cases. He has been accused of double standards, as he has appealed for clemency on behalf of Indonesian citizens held on death row around the world. According to CNN, if Joko Widodo holds firm on his death penalty pledge, then nine people, including eight foreign citizens could be executed as soon as tomorrow.

The death penalty is widely used in the U.S. and is supported by a majority of Americans. That said support for the death penalty is at a 40-year low in the U.S. so as the world awaits the executions in Bali here are a few facts that you should know from Yahoo! News and Bangor Daily News.

  • A total of 18 states have abolished the death penalty, and a further 11 have renounced its use. This means that effectively only 21 of 50 states use the death penalty.
  • 56 percent of Americans favor the use of the death penalty, while 38 percent oppose it. This represents a 40-year low.
  • Over 70-percent of Americans believe that there is a risk of the death penalty being used against people who are innocent. Analysis in 2014 claimed that at least 4.1-percent of those executed would be found innocent if their sentence was commuted.
  • There are currently over 3,000 people on death row in the U.S., down from a peak of 3,593 in 2,000. Thirteen prisoners have been put to death this year so far.
  • Over 150 death row prisoners have later been proven innocent. Florida has had the highest number of wrongful convictions, 25, since the death penalty was reintroduced in 1976.
  • Over 60 percent of Americans do not believe that the death penalty has any deterrent effect.
  • Blacks and whites are victims of homicide in roughly equal numbers. But nearly 80 percent of people executed are convicted of killing white victims.
  • Studies have found that it costs more to execute a prisoner than to lock the person up for life after the costs of appeals etc are factored.
  • It is estimated that over 3-percent of executions are botched. Where the execution is by lethal injection, the figure is even higher at 7-percent.

How do Inquisitr readers view the death penalty? Should it ever be used in non-capital cases?

[Photo by Mike Simons/Getty Images]