Capital Punishment. Objective Paper On The Death Penalty, History Of, Facts Etc

1586 words - 6 pages

The theory 'a life for a life' is 'as old as civilization itself' (McCiellan 9). Thedevelopment of civilizations established what we call justice today. Capital punishment, theexecution of a criminal convicted of a crime, or the legal taking of the life of a criminal,can be divided into three categories: first, crimes against the person; second, crimes againstproperty; and third, crimes which endanger the security of the nation (Horwitz 13). Capitalpunishment is still in use in the United States today, but has been abolished by many countries(II 536). The countries that still have the death penalty on their books, rarely employ it .The earliest writings on the subject dates as far back as 2000 B. C., but it is clearthat capital punishment more or less has existed since the birth of mankind (Szumski 25).Throughout history, it has been exercised in almost all civilizations as a retribution forsevere crimes, but sometimes also for the thrill and excitement. The Romans put slaves andprisoners in the Coliseum as lion food while spectators enjoyed the sight (Horwitz 13).Birger 2In the early colonial states, the death penalty was applied for a vast number of crimes,just like in England, the ruler of the states in this era (II 536). In England, in the 18thcentury, there were approximately 220 offenses punishable by death. Some of them would today beconsidered as misdemeanors and petty crimes (i. e. shooting of a rabbit, the theft of a pockethandkerchief, and to cut down a cherry tree) (Horwitz 13). The majority of these were crimesdealing with property. However, transportation became an alternative to execution in the 17thcentury. A lot of these criminals were shipped to the U.S. (28).In the early days of our Constitution, the only segments that showed that the deathpenalty existed were two amendments in the Bill of Rights (Landau 11). These amendments deal withprotection and rights of the accused. The fifth amendment prohibits the state from depriving anindividual of life without due process of law. The eight amendment prohibits 'cruel and unusual'punishment. The Supreme Court has still not determined what this phrase means. In one case inthe 1890s, the question was if capital punishment violated the eight amendment. The court reliedon the matter that 'a definition of cruel and unusual punishment must reflect the evolvingstandards of decency that mark the progress of a maturingBirger 3society' (14). Surveys from this era show that a majority of the people favored the deathpenalty.In the Middle Ages, capital punishment was also applied to animals (Horwitz 24). Ananimal, guilty of having killed a human being, would be executed, sometimes after a trial with alawyer representing the animal. In one case, in Dijon, France, a horse kicked his master to death.In court, a witness testified that the man had provoked the horse. In spite of this, the creaturewas sentenced to death. Trials with animals was considered to be absolutely fair.'Enlightment thinkers', or...

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