Factbox: Capital punishment in the United States

Wed Mar 9, 2011 4:29pm EST

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(Reuters) - The governor of Illinois on Wednesday signed a bill banning the death penalty in the state. The following are some facts and figures about the death penalty in the United States since 1977, when executions resumed following the lifting of a ban on the practice by the Supreme Court the previous year.

* There have been 1,242 executions in the United States since 1977. The peak year was 1999, when 98 were carried out, while no inmates were put to death in 1978 and 1980. The number of executions dropped 12 percent last year to 46. Eight people have been executed so far this year.

* The year 2009, the last for which data is available, saw 112 death sentences imposed, the lowest number over the past three decades. The peak year was 1996 when 315 were handed down.

* The death penalty is sanctioned by 34 of the 50 states and the government and military -- not counting Illinois, where the ban will take effect July 1. Lethal injection is the main method used by all of the death penalty states.

* The Death Penalty Information Center said there have been 138 exonerations of Death Row inmates since 1973.

* Texas has been by far the most active death penalty state in the post-1976 era, with 466 executions. Virginia is a distant second at 108.

* In 2009, the United States ranked fifth in the world in the number of executions carried out with 52. China carried out by far the most, which Amnesty International estimated was in the thousands. Iran followed with at least 388, Iraq at least 120, and Saudi Arabia with at least 69.

(Sources: Death Penalty Information Center, Amnesty International)

(Writing by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Jerry Norton)

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