Foreword

The death penalty is arguably the most controversial peacetime measure a democratic government can enact and enforce. The United States has seen a resurgence in the popularity of capital punishment over the past 23 years. More and more states have strengthened laws allowing juries to hand down death sentences to people convicted of certain crimes. In some states, politicians have worked to "streamline" the process, shortening the time and number of appeals available to inmates on death row. CBSNews.com brings you an interactive primer on the death penalty: statistics, famous cases, methodology, history, laws and more.