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Most people are familiar with the term capital punishment in today’s society. Capital punishment is defined as a legal action where an individual is executed as punishment for a crime. In shorter terms, capital punishment is the death penalty. Even though it is a functioning legal process, it does arise much controversy. The controversial matter of capital punishment affects both politics and society in the countries that it is present in. Regardless of the controversy surrounding capital punishment, it has been a longstanding legal process that has occurred and currently occurs in many nations around the world.

Regardless of the current controversial issues surrounding capital punishment, it is a legal process that has been in effect since nearly the beginning of civilization. The first documented instances of capital punishments occurred in the earliest known tribes and civilizations. From what was found documented from their societies, capital punishments were typical attributes of their justice system. Capital punishment was also documented in religious texts such as the Old Testament of the Bible and the Torah used in the Jewish religion. Ancient Greek legislation, Ancient Roman legislation, medieval European legislation, and Ancient Middle Eastern legislation also included sections pertaining to the use of capital punishment on prisoners convicted of particular crimes. Perhaps the most famous document that included capital punishment was the Code of Hammurabi. Many of the punishments that were produced from capital punishment regulations were done so in view of the public as a warning to them. Not only did early societies partake in capital methods of punishment, but the methods with which they performed were rather gruesome. These gruesome methods included, boiling to death, dismemberment, decapitation, crushing, slow slicing, crucifixion, stoning, and disembowelment. However, with the rise of nation states and the ideal of citizenship, capital punishment became much less used, and if it was used, was done so in more humane manners. Along with the ideals of citizenship, nation states that arose also believed in universality and equality, and these ideals soon spread through the United States. In the US, the most commonly used methods of humane capital punishments were the electric chair or the gas chamber, which was a less gruesome alternative to public hanging. Lethal injection soon replaced the prior methods as the most human form of capital punishment. Even though the US has developed humane methods of capital punishment, there was still opposition against this form of criminal punishment. Michigan was the first state to outlaw the death penalty, and this was done so in 1846. In the early to mid 1970’s, the death penalty was actually deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court case of Furman v. Georgia. However, the Gregg v. Georgia case in 1976 deemed the death penalty legal under some circumstances. More restrictions were placed on capital punishments after the Atkins vs. Virginia case, which deemed the death penalty as unconditional for those that possessed mental retardation, and the Roper vs. Simmons case, which deemed the death penalty unconstitutional for criminals under 18 years old. Today, capital punishment is outlawed in 17 out of the 50 states and also illegal in the District of Columbia.

The topic of capital punishment has impacted society in various ways. The first and most prominent effect this topic has brought upon society was major controversy. Capital punishment has split the population in two opposing sides: those who believe in the use of the death penalty and those that do not. Those who are death penalty supporters believe that capital punishment puts an end to the criminals that are truly evil and horrible. The belief is also that the death penalty will lessen the overcrowding of prisons as well as saving money for those prisoners that we now have to take care of with our federal tax...
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