Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Death Penalty Research Made Easy!

Researching death penalty laws and practices of a country can be a daunting task, but the Death Penalty Worldwide (DPW) website is a great starting point. Created by Professor Sandra Babcock (Cornell University Law School) in partnership with the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, this website provides a multitude of death penalty statistics, research, and even legal analysis broken down by country and by issue. The DPW database focuses on countries that still retain the death penalty for ordinary offenses. Thus, over 90 countries are covered.

Death Penalty Worldwide website image
Death Penalty Worldwide Website

Beyond having traditional statistics, such as the country’s current death penalty status, number of executions, and date of last execution, the DPW really excels at providing the legal justification (or lack thereof) for carrying out the death penalty. Specific constitutional provisions that reference the death penalty are provided, as are a list of crimes that are punishable by death. The death penalty procedure is also explained, including rights of the defendant in the court of law. Additionally, any international legal commitments the country has that may limit or prohibit the death penalty are included.

Of course, the laws of a country may be incongruent with its actions. Fortunately, the DPW also explains each country’s death penalty practice, including the method of execution, prison conditions, legal and political developments in this field, quality of legal representation, and deviations from its legal stance on the death penalty. Last but not least, major decisions of international courts relating to the specific country’s use of the death penalty are also explained.

The DPW website also offers brief overviews of 19 different international legal issues relating to the death penalty, such as due process, legal representation, and the execution of foreign nationals. International treaties that relate to these issues are discussed, and major international cases are concisely described. Finally, additional resources for further commentary are noted.

While there are many resources available for death penalty research (e.g., Amnesty International and Hands Off Cain), the Death Penalty Worldwide website and its Death Penalty Database provide an extensive, easy-to-use platform that focuses on the legal aspects and the development of the death penalty around the world. Bookmark it today!

Hat tip to beSpacific.

Death Penalty Worldwide photo courtesy of

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