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Apital punishment - Research Paper Example

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Capital punishment, also known as the death penalty, is a form of justice where the individual is put to death following a legal process, as punishment for the crime…
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Download file to see previous pages Of the developed western countries, only the United States continues to actively practice capital punishment, and this varies significantly between different states. History of capital punishment Prior to the 18th-century, capital punishment was prevalent in England for a range of types of crime, including theft and assault. However, as power shifted towards a parliamentary system, and away from the monarch having sole power, the use of capital punishment decreased. This was partly driven by a desire to see more democracy, and also because the death penalty was becoming ineffective at reducing crime rates (Lieberman 200-203). At this time the list of crimes that were punishable by death was so extensive that enforcing the law was difficult and often impossible. Because the only option for those convicted of capital crimes was death, many were released or recommended for royal pardon, based on compassion (Lieberman 209). Consequently, the use of capital punishment began to decrease, and there was an increase in the rate at which criminals were imprisoned In southern France 1977, a Tunisian worker was killed by guillotine as the result of a conviction of murder. While there was nothing significant about the conviction itself, this was the last time that an individual was executed through capital punishment in Western Europe in the 20th century. This trend was prevalent throughout the world, and in the same year only two people were put to death in the United States (Zimring 15-16). The worldwide perception of capital punishment has changed throughout the decades. Initially, Europe believed that the presence of the death penalty was the decision of the individual nation. However, since 2000 Europe has placed a strong emphasis on the human rights aspect of capital punishment, believing the use of the death penalty to be a violation of human rights (Zimring 17). Capital punishment in the United States The occurrence of capital punishment within the United States of America remains an issue of significant moral, political and legal relevance. America is the only developed nation in the western world that continues to use capital punishment as a legal means of punishing criminals (Zimring viii). The use of capital punishment in the United States is varied, and some states actively use the death penalty, while others have abolished it altogether. While the number of people sentenced to death has been dramatically increasing, the same trend has not been observed in number of people executed (Zimring 6). The history of capital punishment in the United States is surprising and unpredictable. In the 1950s and 1960s the pattern of executions followed that of the rest of the western world, with a steadily decreasing number of deaths by capital punishment per year. By 1965, this figure had decreased to less than ten executions each year. A moratorium was released on capital punishment in 1972, which lasted until 1970. However, from 1970 to the present day, the nationwide rates of capital punishment have been increasing, and they currently resemble the rates that occurred prior to the moratorium (Zimring 6-7). Capital punishment shows substantial variation across the states. Thirty-eight states have legal statutes that allow the death penalty, although several of these have not executed an individual for decades. Furthermore, variation among the states that practice the death penalty is significant. In 2000, 40 people were executed in the state of Texas, out of the 85 executions that occurred across the nation (Zimring 7). One significant change that has occurred in the death penalty since its inception is the movement ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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