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Has the death penalty in the United States run its course - Research Paper Example

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Death Penalty in America Death penalty, which is often described as capital punishment, is pronounced on offenders who have committed extremely heinous crimes. It is an ancient practice but in the United States it has faced several controversies in the latter half of the twentieth century (Robertson, 14)…
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Has the death penalty in the United States run its course
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"Has the death penalty in the United States run its course"

Download file to see previous pages History of Death Penalty Death penalty law was first established way back in eighteenth century B.C. in the Code of King Hammaurabi of Babylon. In Britain, hanging became the most common method of executing death sentence in the tenth century A.D. However, in the following century, William the conqueror banned all method of capital punishment for any crime. Again, in the sixteenth century some 72,000 people were executed for capital offences like conducting wedding with a Jew, not admitting to a crime, and treason. Since death penalty is a severe form of punishment, the juries did not convict many defendants if the offense was not grave and this called for reforms in the death penalty in Britain. America was influenced mostly by Britain in the methods of death penalty. When the Europeans settled in the newly found land of America, they continued with their practice of capital punishment. In America, the first ever execution that took place was of Captain George Kendall in the Jamestown colony of Virginia in 1608. His crime was that he was a spy for Spain. All colonies did not have the same laws of death penalty. The first implementation held in Massachusetts Bay Colony was in 1630 although Capital Laws of New England were not established until years later. Duke’s Laws of 1665 were put into effect in the New York colony and under these laws capital crimes included striking one’s parents or atheism. Attempts to reform the death penalty occurred for the first time in America when Thomas Jefferson initiated a bill to review Virginia's death penalty laws. According to this law crimes that were to be punishable by death penalty were murder and treason. This law was defeated by one vote. In the nineteenth century many states of America brought down the incidence of their capital crimes. Many states like Rhode Island and Wisconsin abolished the death penalty, although most states continued with their practice of capital punishment. Some states increased the number of offences to be liable to be punished by death penalty, mainly those committed by the slaves. During the civil war, anti slavery movement began more prominent and as such opposition to the death penalty declined. "Progressive Period" of reform began in the twentieth century in America. During the period 1907-17, death penalty was completely withdrawn in six states. Three states kept treason and first-degree murder of a law enforcement official as the only capital crimes. However, this reform did not last for long due to the chaotic atmosphere in America in the wake of the Russian revolution. In addition to that, America participated in World War I and during this period there were severe class conflicts and the socialists became a threat to capitalism. Due to this reason five of the six states which abolished death penalty again established the law of death penalty. In the 1950s, the number of death penalties made a steep drop as many allied nations either abolished or limited the death penalty. (“History of the Death Penalty”) Cost of Execution From economic standpoint it is debatable whether death penalty is sufficiently effective for prevention of criminal activities. There are methods that have been proved to be effective for prevention of crime, but resources that are used for the implementation of death penalty are not available for establishing those methods. Costs involved in death penalty cases are much higher ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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