The Advocates for Human Rights, together with The World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, submitted a joint stakeholder report on the Death Penalty in the United States for the 36th Session of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review in May 2020.
The U.S. federal government, the U.S. military, and twenty-nine states retain the death penalty. The federal government can apply the death penalty to crimes that do not result in the death of the victim. Despite a 2008 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that established that the death penalty should not be expanded to cases where the victim was not killed, states continue to impose the death penalty where the defendant was substantially involved in events leading up to the death of a victim.
Minority groups are disproportionately affected by the death penalty; 77% of individuals on federal death row belong to an ethnic or racial minority group. The federal government frequently ignores local and regional opposition to the death penalty, especially in Puerto Rico. Federal law exempts individuals with intellectual disabilities from capital punishment, although states have discretion in deciding what qualifies as a disability that merits exemption. As a result, approximately 20% of individuals on death row have serious psycho-social or intellectual disabilities, which can leave them vulnerable to making a false confession.
Recommendations to the United States government include:
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