Death Penalty Research Paper

Topics: Capital punishment, Lethal injection, Electric chair Pages: 11 (2877 words) Published: February 23, 2015
Death Penalty Research Paper
I. Introduction
The death penalty in the United States is a constant source of controversy. Efforts to abolish capital punishment in America date back to over 100 years and continue to expand in present-day. In addition, all 50 states vary in their retention and application of the death penalty. Currently, the death penalty is legal in 32 states, the distribution of the actual executions however, is quite wide. The five states with the highest number of executions performed account for approximately 65% of the total executions in the country since the US Supreme Court re-affirmed and reinstated the death penalty in 1976. The state of Texas alone is responsible for almost 37% of the country’s executions. In contrast, 14 states have executed five or fewer prisoners since 1976. II. History Since the earliest societies, capital punishment has been used as a method of crime deterrence. Historical archives show that the even the most primitives tribes utilized methods of punishing culprits that often included taking their lives in order to pay for the crimes they committed. Murder most often warranted this ultimate form of punishment. As tribal societies formed social classes and man-kind developed its own self-governed republics, capital punishment became a usual response to a variety of crimes, such as sexual assault, military offenses and treason. Written rules were created to alert the people of the penalties that could face them should they participate in any wrongdoing. One of the earliest written documents observed that supported the death penalty was the Code of Hammurabi, written on stone tablets around 1760 BC. The code contained approximately 282 laws that were proposed by the Babylonian King Hammurabi and included the theory of an “eye for an eye.” Several other ancient documents were also supportive of the death penalty; these included the Christian Old Testament, the Jewish Torah, and the writing of Athenian legislator Draco, who was a proponent of capital punishment for a large number of offenses in Ancient Greece. The earliest forms of the death penalty were intended to be painful, slow and torturous. Some ancient cultures employed methods of crucifixion, stoning, and being burned at the stake among others. Later civilizations found these methods to be cruel, unusual forms of punishment and thus opted for more humane practices. During the 18th and 19th centuries, legislators found less painful and faster approaches to execution, which included beheading by the guillotine and hanging. These practices were typically large public spectacles and were not any less bloody or violent but death was almost always instantaneous, so they were perceived as being more compassionate. III. In the United States

Capital Punishment in the United States dates back to the founding of the original colonies, and was used for a variety of crimes such as burglary, treason, counterfeiting and murder. During the American Revolution, legislators in the United States began to examine and revise policies behind the death penalty. In 1971, the constitution was amended to prohibit any form of punishment deemed “cruel and unusual.” Although the amendment did not intend to ban capital punishment, it did start a movement towards performing more human executions. Currently, 32 states in the US allow the death penalty, although the greatest number of death row inmates and actual executions occur in only a few of those. California is the state with the largest death row population of 625 inmates, but they do not perform executions frequently. In fact, in the last three years, only two people have been put to death. In contrast is Texas, while also having a large number of offenders on death row (453), Texas follows through with executions, executing more people each year than any other state. Their executions constitute 46% of all executions performed in the year 2002. IV. Eligibility

Eligibility for the death...

References: 1.
2. 3. Paul Marcus, 2007. William & Mary Law School. Capital Punishment in the United States, and Beyond. 4. 5. Jeffrey A. Fagan. Columbia Law School. Capital Punishment: Deterrence Effects and Capital Costs.
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