The Death Penalty Today
In April 1999, the United Nations Human Rights Commission passed the Resolution Supporting Worldwide Moratorium On Executions . The resolution calls on countries which have not abolished the death penalty to restrict its use of the death penalty, including not imposing it on juvenile offenders and limiting the number of offenses for which it can be imposed. Ten countries, including the United States, China, Pakistan, Rwanda and Sudan voted against the resolution. (New York Times, 4/29/99). Each year since 1997, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights has passed a resolution calling on countries that have not abolished the death penalty to establish a moratorium on executions. In April 2004, the resolution was co-sponsored by 76 UN member states. (Amnesty International, 2004).
In the United States numbers of death sentences are steadily declining from 300 in 1998 to 106 in 2009.
Following the Furman decision Florida rewrote its death penalty statutes, shortly after which 34 other states enacted their own revised death penalty laws. These laws avoided the arbitrariness complained of in Furman by mandating capital punishment for those convicted of capital crimes. This method was later found unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in Woodson v. North Carolina. Other states issued guidelines to judges and juries. The Supreme Court upheld this system in Gregg v. Georgia and several other cases, leading to the reinstatement of the death penalty under the new sentencing guidelines and also finding the death penalty itself constitutional under the Eighth Amendment.