Capital Punishment Essay

7565 words - 30 pages

Early History of Capital PunishmentPrimitive SocietyDeath penalty has very old roots; in fact, there is evidence of its application even in peoples such as Babylonians, ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans. It is still applied in many developed countries such as the U.S.A. Death penalty was widely applied among primitive peoples. The phrase 'capital punishment' comes from the Latin word for "the head". However, no witnesses of written criminal codes are left to prove its evidence with primitive people as laws in primitive times were handled orally. Chiefs or other delegates applied such punishment in a subjective and arbitrary way. Capital punishment was applied mainly for crimes such as murder or theft, and probably for high treason and sacrileges. The roots of death penalty are as primitive as early civilizations. The Babylonian civilization started in the XIX century B.C. and finished in the VI century B.C., when Babylonia became a province of Cyrus's Persian Empire. The Babylonians were a Mesopotamian people; at the age of their maximum expansion, under Hammurabi's dominion (1792-1750 B...C.), they occupied the whole Mesopotamia, the plain where the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers flow, the present Iraq. The important innovation in the history of law and punishment was the appearance of the first written code, the Hammurabi Code. In this code, capital punishment is widely provided for crimes such as theft, murder and wrongs at work i.e. if a builder builds a house, which is not solid, gives way and kills the householder, this builder must be killed. Written code was in a way great achievement because arbitraries and subjectivity are deleted but it still was circumstantial. The code is written on three horizontal columns of cuneiform writing: 16 columns in 1 side of the stele and 28 in the other one. Divided in 28 paragraphs, it starts with the discipline and the lawsuit. There were the laws about the property, the loan, the deposit, the obligations, the domestic property, and the family right. Hammurabi code, which doesn't contain laws about religion and where, like the Semitic right "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth", the penal right is founded on the law of retaliation, offered protection to the weakest Babylonian social class especially women, children. Among ancient Egyptians, death penalty was applied for those who break "Maat", the universal Law strictly observed in Egypt. The law included the crimes such as murder, theft, sacrilege, attempt on Pharaon (seen as a guarantor of the Law) and spying. Death penalty applied was brutal beheading, sacrifice, or drowning in the Nile in a close sack.In pre-Columbian communities, there were no prisons. The robbery was punished with slavery and the murder with death. In addition, the adultery, considered crime against the ownership, which was punishable with the death and the culprit was consigned to the injured husband, who would kill him throwing a big stone on his head. The Greek...

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