The United States of America (USA), commonly referred to as the United States (US), America, or simply the States, is a federal republic consisting of 50 states, 16 territories, a federal district, and various overseas extraterritorial jurisdictions. The 48 contiguous states and the federal district of Washington, D.C., are in central North America between Canada and Mexico. The state of Alaska is the northwestern part of North America and the state of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific. The country also has five populated and nine unpopulated territories in the Pacific and the Caribbean. At 3.79 million square miles (9.83 million km2) in total and with around 316 million people, the United States is the fourth-largest country by total area and third largest by population. It is one of the world's most ethnically diverse and multicultural nations, the product of large-scale immigration from many countries. The geography and climate of the United States is also extremely diverse, and it is home to a wide variety of wildlife.
Paleo-indians migrated from Asia to what is now the US mainland around 15,000 years ago, with European colonization beginning in the 16th century. The United States emerged from 13 British colonies located along the Atlantic seaboard. Disputes between Great Britain and these colonies led to the American Revolution. On July 4, 1776, delegates from the 13 colonies unanimously issued the Declaration of Independence. The ensuing war ended in 1783 with the recognition of independence of the United States from the Kingdom of Great Britain, and was the first successful war of independence against a European colonial empire. The current Constitution was adopted on September 17, 1787. The first 10 amendments, collectively named the Bill of Rights, were ratified in 1791 and guarantee many fundamental civil rights and freedoms.
Capital punishment or the death penalty is a legal process whereby a person is put to death by the state as a punishment for a crime. The judicial decree that someone be punished in this manner is a death sentence, while the actual process of killing the person is an execution. Crimes that can result in a death penalty are known as capital crimes or capital offences. The term capital originates from the Latin capitalis, literally "regarding the head" (referring to execution by beheading).
Capital punishment has, in the past, been practised by most societies. Currently 58 nations actively practise it, 97 countries have abolished it de jure for all crimes, 8 have abolished it for ordinary crimes only (maintain it for special circumstances such as war crimes), and 35 have abolished it de facto (have not used it for at least ten years and/or are under moratorium) . Amnesty International considers most countries abolitionist, overall, the organisation considers 140 countries to be abolitionist in law or practice.
Lethal injection is the practice of injecting a person with a fatal dose of drugs (typically a barbiturate, paralytic, and potassium solution) for the express purpose of causing immediate death. The main application for this procedure is capital punishment, but the term may also be applied in a broad sense to euthanasia and suicide. It kills the person by first putting the person to sleep, and then stopping the breathing and heart, in that order.
A total of 37 individuals have been executed in Nebraska including 3 since 1976 as US Supreme Court allowed the resumption of executions. A total of 10 people are under a sentence of death in the state as of May 2009. On February 8, 2008, the Nebraska Supreme Court declared electrocution "cruel and unusual punishment"; on May 28, 2009, the state legislature adopted lethal injection as its execution method.
The jury decides the sentence and may punish First Degree Murder as a Class I felony or a Class IA felony. According to Nebraska law, Class I felonies mean death is the punishment and Class IA felonies mean life imprisonment without parole is the punishment. Death sentences are automatically appealed to a three-judge panel. The Governor of Nebraska sits on the board that determines clemency. 31 people have been given clemency including 11 since 1976. First Degree Murder is the only Class I crime. Nebraska State Penitentiary is where executions in Nebraska have taken place since 1903. As in any other state, people who are under 18 at the time of commission of the capital crime or mentally challenged are constitutionally precluded from being executed.
Capital punishment is legal in the U.S. state of Wyoming.
Wyoming Legislature passed a new and current death penalty statute on February 28, 1977, due to eliminating all previous statutes across the country by the 1972 United States Supreme Court Furman v. Georgia decision.