When remarking on the issue of capital punishment, Henry Ford was quoted as saying that “[c]apital punishment is as fundamentally wrong as a cure for crime as charity is wrong as a cure for poverty”(“Henry Ford”). His comment, while not saying that capital punishment and charity does not have the right idea about how to deal with the issues that plague societies, it does say that it does not properly address the issue so that it can be completely solved. While portrayed as the solution for to stop those thinking about committing serious offenses, this does not seemed to be the case at all. Capital punishment does not deter nor solve the issues that it is meant to deal with and instead creates more. In this paper, it will go over a brief history of capital punishment, the current state of capital punishment in the United States and what the outlook for it is.
According to Michael Kronenwetter, punishment of any kind stems from the fact that “[...] [t]here must be a penalty for wrongdoing”. Prior to governments taking over the administrative role, people “[...] were expected to take their own revenge on those who had wronged them. If a man robbed or killed another person, or raped a woman, it was up to the victim or the victim's family to exact a price from the wrongdoer”. This created major problems in the fact that it left those who were weak in power at the mercy of the strong. False accusations could go unchecked and unjust punishment would be given to those who could not properly defend themselves. Death was used a penalty for crimes that were “applied […] sparingly and only for the most terrible of crimes. Others imposed it for minor offenses” such as under the Roman Law of the Twelve Tablets death was the penalty for publishing insulting songs and disturbing the peace of the city at night. Similarly, under Greece's Draconian code, death was the punishment for every crime (2001).
However, this does not mean that punishments for nobility was the same for those of free birth and slave status. Egyptian laws stated that nobles must take their own lives versus others dying by beheading by Ax. In the Roman codes, the reason for punishment and the way that the person was punished depended on his status within his society. It could include death for cheating another patron of a client, perjury, willful murder of a freeman or a parent and death could come in the form of crucifixion, drowning at sea, burial alive, beating to death, and impalement. Like the Romans, the people of Greece also had layers to their laws and one of the more famous executions would be of Socrates by poisoning himself for “heresy and corruption of youth”(Reggio, 2012). Foreigners and minorities were treated more harshly than the dominate group and often the more privilege groups were allowed more merciful death (expect for crimes of treason) (Kronenwetter, 2001).
While all these forms of capital punishment can be said to have influenced the current methods we have today,...