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Capital Punishment in the United Kingdom - Research Paper Example

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Name: Tutor: Course: Date: University: Capital Punishment in the United Kingdom Introduction Capital punishment refers to the legitimate infliction of the death penalty, death sentence, or execution as a punishment by the state. Ever since the ancient times, capital punishment has been employed to cover a diverse range of offences…
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Capital Punishment in the United Kingdom
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Download file to see previous pages The elimination of the death penalty in all circumstances eventually took place in 1998. Similarly, the 13th Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights in 2004 outlawed the restoration of the death penalty, provided that the United Kingdom continued to be a party to the convention. History of Capital Punishment in the United Kingdom Hanging used to be the chief mode of execution in the United Kingdom since the 5th Century; other practices included drawing, quartering, beheading, burning at the stake, shooting, drowning, and hurling from cliffs. In 1196, the first person was hanged at Tyburn as a punishment for sedition. From 1351, the capital offences that attracted the death penalty included treason, witchcraft, murder, rape, piracy, robbery, arson, embezzlement of master properties, and theft (Davies 2007, p. 107). Efforts directed at the abolition of the death penalty had been ongoing since the late 1700s. In 1770, Sir William Meredith challenged parliament to consider proportionate punishments rather than capital punishments. Nevertheless, the proposal failed; however, it opened up the debate. Every year, there were over thousand death sentencing, although only a sizeable number of executions took place (Levinson 2002, p.155). In 1810, Sir Samuel Romilly remarked that United Kingdom had the most offences according to law to be punished by the death penalty. At its height, the criminal law, otherwise labeled as the “Bloody Code,” had categorized 220 crimes punishable by death. Sir Samuel Romilly attempted to convince parliament to de-capitalize minor offences, especially much of the Act of King William (Block & Hostettler 1997, p.109). Execution for crimes such as murder, robbery, and burglary were frequent; however, capital punishment for minor offenders were mainly not carried out. Nevertheless, in some instances, children could be executed for crimes such as stealing. A death sentence could be commuted on the grounds of benefit of clergy, official pardons, or execution of military duty (Stearman 2008, p.47). Statistics indicate that, between 1770 and 1830, close to 35,000 death sentences were handed out, out of which about 7,000 executions happened. At the time, prisons comprised of small, crowded, and badly run institutions, a situation that led to incorporation of punishments like transportation of offenders to distant lands such as America and Australia. During the 1830s, the masses had started to express doubts on the punishments (Block and Hostettler 1997, p. 110). Many more prisons were built while the old ones were extended to avail a fresh mode of punishment. The overriding notion centered on making prisons unpleasant places to stay in order to discourage people from committing crimes. Reform In Europe, reforms on the subject of the death penalty, championed by academics, started around 1750. Year 1808 witnessed abolishment of capital punishment for pickpockets and lesser offenders. This set the onset for the reform process perpetuated over the next fifty years. Nevertheless, capital punishment remained operational even though the government occasionally commuted the death penalty. The Judgment of Death Act 1823 awarded power to judges to commute the death penalty excluding cases of treason and murder (Levinson 2002, p.156). The Punishment of Death Act 1 ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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