In response to the announcement that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was sentenced to death after being convicted in the Boston Marathon bombings, Steven W. Hawkins, executive director of Amnesty International USA issued the following statement:
"We condemn the bombings that took place in Boston two years ago, and we mourn the loss of life and grave injuries they caused. The death penalty, however, is not justice. It will only compound the violence, and it will not deter others from committing similar crimes in the future.
It is outrageous that the federal government imposes this cruel and inhuman punishment, particularly when the people of Massachusetts have abolished it in their state. As death sentences decline worldwide, no government can claim to be a leader in human rights when it sentences its prisoners to death."
Amnesty International has documented a steady decline in the use of the death penalty in the United States and around the world over the past several years, though in 2014 there was a marked increase in death sentences to address a real or perceived threat of terrorism especially in Egypt and Nigeria. There remains no evidence showing that the death penalty deters crime or has any effect in reducing terrorism.
Annual death sentences in the U.S. have declined since 2000. In the last eight years the number of death sentences has been lower than any time since reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976. In 2014 there were 72 death sentences, the lowest number on record since 1976. Executions have declined as well, from a high of 98 in 1999 to just 35 in 2014, the lowest in 20 years; there were 43 executions in 2011 and 2012 and 39 in 2013.
Amnesty International USA opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception as the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. As of today, 140 countries have abolished the death penalty in law or practice. The U.S. was one of only nine countries in the world that carried out executions each year between 2009 and 2013.