Death Penalty

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Honors American Government
2/26/13
There are many controversial topics in the United States of America. These topics are debated on whether they violate the Constitution and the Bill of Rights or not. One of the most controversial topics is capital punishment. Capital punishment is disputed on whether or not it violates the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. In the span of 32 years, 1997 to 2009, there have been 1,188 people executed (death procon). Numerous capital punishment cases are the execution of murderers; it can also be implemented for treason, espionage, and other crimes. The types of capital punishment include hanging, firing squad, electrocution, lethal gas and lethal injection. It is widely debated on whether or not these punishments are considered cruel and unusual. To this day capital punishment remains a controversial topic.

The death penalty roots back to the 1700s B.C to The Code of Hammurabi. In ancient Babylonia, the first known death penalty laws were written and called The Code of Hammurabi (Historical). This law was implemented for twenty-five crimes including; adultery and helping slaves escape, however murder was not one of them. In the fourteenth century B.C through Hittie Code the death penalty was applied. Draconian Code of Athens, which appeared in the Seventh Century B.C, declared all crimes to be punished with the same punishment, death. After two centuries, in the Fifth Century B.C, Roman Law of the Twelve Tablets was followed. These punishments included death by means such as, crucifixion, drowning, beating to death, burning Sreeram 2

alive and impalement. Afterwards, In the Tenth Century A.D, Britain used hanging as the death penalty. William the Conqueror, from the Eleventh Century A.D, forbid hangings for any crime, besides during war. However by the Sixteenth Century A.D the law fell through and Henry VIII executed about 72,000 people. For the next two centuries Britain continued to conduct executions for various crimes, by the Eighteenth Century A.D, 222 crimes were punished by death. Britain’s use of death penalty carried over to America when colonization began. The execution of Captain George Kendall was the first recorded use of capital punishment in the new colonies (History). By 1833, public executions were thought as cruel and there was a switch to private hangings. In the 1900s nine states prohibited capital punishment. In 2002, the Supreme Court ruled the use of death penalty on mentally retarded offenders is unconstitutional. Soon after, the execution of offenders under the age of 18 was also ruled unconstitutional. Currently there are only five methods of execution in the United States, hanging, firing squad, electrocution, lethal gas, and lethal injection. Over the years the death penalty has become more and more limited.

Capital punishment, also known as the death penalty, is widely disputed and argued. Some say it is not cruel or unusual because with the advanced technology of today we are able to execute people painlessly. However in retaliation people say death is the ultimate punishment, the enormity and finality of it make it unusual. It is also said the death penalty instills fear among the people and prevents them from committing murders. On the other hand, opponents say crime rates indicate no difference among states that abolish capital punishment and ones that practice. Furthermore, the executed are people who deserve to be punished this severely. On the contrary, killing a person who has killed brings forth unnecessary violence. Moreover, killing the culprit Sreeram 3

does not bring the innocent back to life. Mistakes are made in court, but for a case of death penalty extra precautions are taken to prevent mistakes because of the severity of the punishments. In addition, since 1976, when the death penalty was reinstated, there have been no credible mistakes in the executions. Nonetheless, since 1976, 87 people have been...
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