Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The United States was the only Western democracy that executed prisoners last year, even as an increasing number of U.S. states are moving to abolish the death penalty, Amnesty International said Monday.

"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," said Suzanne Nossell, executive director of Amnesty International USA, citing the four nations with the most executions.

Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, which tracks U.S. trends, told The Associated Press that last year 78 prisoners received death sentences, down from an average of more than 300 annually a few years ago.

Dieter attributed much of the decline to the introduction of DNA testing, which has exposed some mistaken convictions.

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