The Death Penalty
In the United States, the use of the death penalty is steadily declining, although we can see from this chart that the United States is still among a group of countries that it would hardly consider models in regard to their respect for human rights. Note that the figures for China and Iran are mere estimates, since China does not publish such figures and Iran's appear to be higher than those publicly available. North Korea does not publish its data, and it is extraordinarily difficult to gain information about this issue within North Korea. The current fighting in the Middle East suggests that these numbers will change dramatically in some cases.
The data from Pew Research shows that the number of death sentences in the United States is declining dramatically, but number of prisoners remaining on death row is still extraordinarily high--well over three thousand, with California having the highest number (740). More prisoners die of old age than execution on California's death row.
The American public remains divided about the issue of capital punishment, although a majority still favor its use according to a 2015 Pew poll. As Pew has pointed out in another poll, many religious leaders have spoken out against capital punishment, including the Catholic bishops, their followers do not necessarily agree with them. Very few religious groups explicitly favor the death penalty.