Capital Punishment Essay

2383 words - 10 pages

Introduction
Capital punishment, also called the death penalty or death sentence, is a legal form of punishment carried out by a state or government upon a criminal. It is a legal process by which a person is put to death for a crime. Although it has been utilized since the beginning of civilization, capital punishment is a malignancy on civilized society that must be removed. The taking of an individual’s life legally is no different than the taking of a life illegally. The death penalty violates the US Constitution as well as the basic human rights to which we are all entitled. Furthermore, executions affect even those who are not convicts. The relatives of the condemned have to suffer along with the inmate and live with the consequences of the inmate’s death after the execution. The costs of the death penalty are not only borne by the inmates or their families but everyday people as well. The financial costs of the death penalty reach far beyond the actual execution. And it is the taxpayers who foot the bill. Ultimately, capital punishment is arbitrary, undignified and not suited for civilized society.
Background
The execution of criminals and political opponents has taken place in nearly every culture and society, both as punishment and to silence dissidents. In most places that utilize capital punishment, it is reserved for murder, treason, or as part of military justice. In some nations sexual crimes, such as rape, adultery, incest and sodomy, carry the death penalty, as well as religious crimes such as apostasy or heresy. In many countries that use the death penalty, drug trafficking is also considered a capital offence. In militaries around the world courts-martial have imposed death sentences for offences such as cowardice, desertion, insubordination, and mutiny. The use of execution as a punishment can be traced to the beginning of written history. There are many historical accounts from various ancient sources and prehistoric archaeological evidence that indicate the use of the death penalty as a form of punishment. Forms of historical execution include boiling alive (either in water or oil), beheading, disembowelment, slow slicing, dismemberment, crucifixion, crushing, stoning, burning, sawing, and the breaking wheel. In medieval Europe, before the development of modern prisons and other technological advancements, the death penalty was used frequently as a form of punishment due to the conditions of the prisons and for practical reasons. During the reign of Henry VIII of England, it is estimated that over seventy thousand people were executed. By 1820 in England, there were 160 crimes that were punishable by death for crimes as minor as theft or shoplifting. The “Bloody Code” as it was called, was often mitigated by juries who refused to convict, or judges who purposefully set the value of stolen property below the level that qualified as a capital crime. Two important aspects that influenced capital...

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