Evolution of Capital Punishment
Ever since there has been crime, there has been punishment. One form of punishment that has existed since the beginning of society is capital punishment. As crime and societies have evolved over time, so have capital punishment, its forms, and its reasons for use. Capital punishment is defined as the execution or death for a capital offense. (Hill & Hill 1995: 75) A capital offense is defined as being any criminal charge that is punishable by the death penalty. (Hill & Hill 1995: 75) A capital offense usually means that no bail will be allowed. Capital punishment has existed since the earliest civilizations such as the ancient Greeks, Romans, and even the English have existed. Death sentences were not only carried out centuries ago, but they were also given out as sentences in formal courts. In ancient Greece, the death penalty was ordered for what are known as minor crimes in modern day living. The rules of Rome were not much more merciful to say the least. Starting a fire or even disturbing the peace after dark could fuel such a verdict as death by fire or worse. And finally in England, there were over 200 offenses that could be punishable by death. (Landon 1992: 9) The English, were in fact, the main reasons as to why the death penalty exists in America. Capital punishment became a very important part of the written rules at the time of the first wave of colonists that arrived in America. The rules varied from colony to colony although the rules remained quite similar all the same. (Landon 1992: 10) The death penalty in very early America was the end result of a murderous conviction the majority of the time although it was put to use for many other crimes. Due to the fact that there was no separation of power between the church and the American government and the fact that a simple accusation could cost somebody their life, the 8th and then later on, the 14th amendments were created. The 8th amendment states that "Excessive...
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