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Home » Geography of Crime and Punishment, World

The Geography of Capital Punishment

Submitted by on October 4, 2011 – 3:52 pm 5 Comments |  
Map of per capita executions in 2010Capital punishment has featured prominently in the global news in recent weeks, due both to the execution of Troy Davis in Georgia and to the scheduled hanging of three men in India convicted of killing prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991. One reason for this attention is the relative rarity of the death penalty. Many countries have eliminated the practice, as is shown in the second map posted here. More to the point, many countries that allow executions rarely if ever carry them out. As the first map shows, only a handful of states conducted executions in 2010. The vast majority occurred in China, which may have killed as many as 5,000 persons. In per capita terms, however, oil-rich and notoriously corrupt Equatorial Guinea led the pack.

Wikipedia Map of Death PenaltyCountries practicing capital punishment are concentrated in East Asia, the Middle East, and northeast Africa. The United States is an extreme outlier: the only country in the Western Hemisphere to have carried out executions in 2010.

Many American news organizations are highly critical of capital punishment. Yet on October 4, 2011, the New York Times lauded a death penalty sentence. Under the heading “Justice in Pakistan,” it argued that the slated execution of Malik Mumtaz Qadri presents a “rare glimmer of hope” for the troubled country. Qadri was convicted of murdering Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab province and a prominent critic of Pakistan’s draconian blasphemy laws.

 

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  • Leszek

    Treating US as single entity makes the map kind of imprecise.

    • Chris in Binghamton

      I wish I remember where it was, but I do remember coming across an aritcle with a map about capital punishment in the US. It wasn’t per capita discussion, but instead a discussion of methods, and the cultural historical background… why electruction in some states, why hanging in other states, etc. And it gave some interesting cultural background about different – sometimes – regional views of capital punishment.

      After some googling, similar maps available here… http://deathpenaltycurriculum.org/student/c/states/maps/modes.htm
      but still stumped as to where ot find the artiucle that discussed the regional/cultural choice for methods of execution.

  • Thanks, Chris for the link — interesting maps.  Those maps, as well as the one’s from today’s GeoCurrents post, should address Leszek’s criticism, which is spot-on. 

  • Thanks, Chris for the link — interesting maps.  Those maps, as well as the one’s from today’s GeoCurrents post, should address Leszek’s criticism, which is spot-on. 

  • Considering Leszek’s criticism, I wonder if there are regional variations in the Chinese data.  China does not have the legal federalism of the United States, but are executions carried out more or less on the prosperous coast, compared with the less prosperous West?  I might ask the same thing about ethnically and regionally diverse Iran.