Capital punishment, also known as death penalty or execution, is the sentence that a criminal must fulfil preceding committing a capital crime. Capital crimes consist of mass murders, treachery and other offenses. The English word ’Capital’ is derived from Latin ‘Capitalis’ meaning the head – ‘caput’ as the sentence was normally served by decapitating the criminal.
The sentence has been in practise for thousands of years, used in almost every society in the world at some point. However, it is used less in retentionist countries – for example, China is suspected to have executed around one thousand seven hundred people but could be up to six thousand in 2009, Iran executed at least three hundred and eighty-eight and Iraq at least one hundred and twenty. The United States only executed fifty-two, due to many states now phasing out the sentence. China and other developed authoritarian countries used the death penalty as a potent means of political oppression but are also overwhelmingly used in poor authoritarian countries also for political oppression.
One of the first recorded uses of capital punishment was used in Ancient Greece, the Athenian legal system was written by Draco in 621 B.C. included the death penalty for a wide range of uses. This legal system was well known to be decisively harsh in which all crimes had a final sentence of capital punishment, and could only be carried out by the state making vendettas illegal. After a war with the city of Megara, the rulers were banished from Athens and a legislator called Solon re-wrote the laws to relieve the misery, and between 594 and 614 B.C. the unnecessary harsh laws were repealed.
It was also revealed that the Soviets executed one hundred and fifty eight thousand soldiers for desertion in World War Two.
Today, capital punishment is still in use, in many developed states such as China, Indonesia and the United States. However many states in the United States have began phasing out the use of capital punishment, or consorting to alternative, more humane methods of execution. Currently only fifty eight nations of one hundred and ninety five and ninety five have completely abolished the practise, the others unknown, so sixty percent of the world population live in execution countries. In most of these countries, capital punishment is reserved for murder, treason, espionage, rape, adultery, incest, sodomy and military offenses such as desertion, mutiny, insubordination and cowardice. At the start of 2010, at least 17,000 people worldwide were to be sentenced to death.
It is argued by supporters of capital punishment that life imprisonment is not equally effective a deterrent as the death penalty. People who have been given the death penalty and have received it are no longer in society, therefore cannot commit further crimes or be of any threat to the general public if they were released from prison. Although typically a life sentence to prison may be given for capital crimes, some...