Capital Punishment Essay

2079 words - 8 pages

A good argument paper supporting capital punishment sameCAPITAL PUNISHMENTIntroductionCapital punishment is punishment by death for committing acrime. Since the early 1800's most executions have resulted fromconvictions for murder. The death penalty has also been imposedfor such serious crimes as armed robbery, kidnapping, rape, andtreason. There is a lot of conflict between people about whetheror not capital punishment is effective in discouraging crime.In the early 1990's, 36 states of the United States had lawsthat permitted the death penalty. These laws were greatlyinfluenced by a 1972 decision of the Supreme Court of the UnitedStates which had banned the death penalty as it was then imposed,describing the carrying out of the death penalty as cruel andunusual punishment. But the court left open the possibility thatthe death penalty might be imposed for certain crimes and if itwas applied according to clear standards.After this decision was made, new capital punishment lawswere made to satisfy the Supreme Court's requirements. Theselaws limit the death penalty to murder and to other specifiedcrimes that result in a person's death. These crimes includearmed robbery, hijacking, and kidnapping.Many countries, including most European and Latin-Americannations, have abolished the death penalty since 1900 - includingCanada, which did so in 1976. In the early 1990's, the UnitedStates was the only Western industrialized nation whereexecutions still took place.HistoryCapital punishment was common among all ancientcivilizations. It was used for a variety of offenses that todayaren't crimes at all, like stealing the keys to someone's winecellar.There were many different methods of executions, and theyall had a barbaric quality. Some of the more vicious methodswere stoning, impaling, boiling in oil, burned alive, and beingstretched on the rack.One of the most notorious ways of executions was beingbeheaded by a guillotine. This machine, invented by JosephIgnace Guillotin (1738-1814), became the official instrument ofexecution in France during the French Revolution. It dropped ahuge knife that cut off the victim's head. It was regarded asquick and merciful. The guillotine was used until 1981, whencapital punishment was abolished in France.The death penalty was a popular method of punishment inEngland. Imprisonment was hardly ever used. In the 15th centurythere were eight capital crimes: treason , petty treason,murder, larceny, robbery, burglary, rape, and arson. Othercrimes were soon added to the list, so that by the year 1780there were 350.Executions were common enough to require gallows in everydistrict of London. Bodies were sometimes left hanging as awarning to other would-be criminals. If the hangman were soinclined, he might give the convicted brandy to dull his sensesor pull on his legs so he would die quicker.It was estimated that between the years 1805 and 1810, 3,000death sentences were handed out. At this time, however, the lawswere not strictly...

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