Let’s do the numbers

We’re bad, when it comes to executions, but we’re significantly less bad than Saudi Arabia.

DeathPenaltyInfo.org gives the tally: 35 last year, 39 the year before, 43 each the two before that; 46, 52, 37. There were big spikes in 1999 and 2000 – 98 and 85 respectively.

Our population is larger than that of Saudi Arabia – theirs is 28.3 million, ours is 318.9 million.

But then there’s the issue of the race of the people executed

race chart 1


Then compare that to the race of the victims.

race chart 2

See it?




  1. says

    Any time you find yourself in the position of saying “yeah, but the Saudis are worse” is going to be uncomfortable. Since 1976 I have patiently waited for America to regain its sanity and stop judicial slaughter. Only recently has it become apparent that killings carried out under cover of law enforcement in the United States amounted to a widespread, but largely ignored or excused, extrajudicial homicide. America has ahead of it a long, long road away from Omelas.

  2. sonofrojblake says

    Any time you find yourself in the position of saying “yeah, but the [whatever] are worse” is going to be uncomfortable.

    Especially if part of your schtick is criticising other people using similar formulations. #DearMuslima

  3. M'thew says


    If only the happiness in the US were on the same level as that in Omelas. Too many scapegoats, too little happiness…

  4. Ed says

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with comparing and contrasting different societies when it comes to the death penalty and other policies, as long as it isn’t in order to say that you’re OK as long as someone else is worse.

    An international comparison, of course, would also show nearly all other countries who have ideals (representative government, human rights, etc.) which the US claims to share, do not practice the death penalty. Even a fair number if developing nations have banned executions as part of a project of reform and modernization.

    Not every country with the death penalty is uniformly backward, but taken as a whole, that category includes every remaining Communist country and every absolute monarchy, theocracy and strong man dictatorship.

    If there was an international organization called The Organization of Capital Punishment Supporting States, the few remaining democracies who qualified for membership would be ashamed to be ideologically associated with most of their fellow members.

  5. freemage says

    If I remember right, generally, “Black kills white” gets you a huge jump in the odds of execution. It then slopes down–“white kills white”, “black kills black” and finally, in the bottom, “white kills black”.

  6. Nathanael says

    Honestly, the Saudi government is worse than pretty nearly every other government in the world. What a comparison point.

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