Capital Punishment - A Controversial Debate

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There has been many controversies in the history of the United States, ranging from abortion to gun control, but capital punishment has been one of the most hotly contested issues in recent decades. Capital punishment is the legal infliction of the death penalty on persons convicted of a crime. It is not intended to inflict any physical pain or any torture; it is only another form of punishment. It is irrevocable because it removes those punished from society permanently, instead of temporarily imprisoning them. There is another alternative to the death penalty and that is life-long imprisonment.

The death penalty has been imposed throughout history for many crimes, ranging from blasphemy and treason to petty theft and murder. Although capital punishment was widely accepted throughout the early United States, not everyone approved of it. In the late-eighteen century, opposition to the death penalty gathered enough strength to lead to important restrictions on the use of the death penalty in several northern states, while in the United States, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Rhode Island abandoned the practice altogether (Kronenwetter 15). In 1794, Pennsylvania adopted a law to distinguish the degrees of murder and only used the death penalty for premeditated first-degree murder. In Louisiana another reform took place in 1846. This state abolished the mandatory death penalty and authorized the option of sentencing a capital offender to life imprisonment rather than to death. After the 1830s, public executions ceased to be demonstrated but did not completely stop until after 1936.

Throughout history, governments have been extremely inventive in devising ways to execute people. Common historical methods of execution included: stoning, crucifixion, burning, breaking on the wheel, drawing and quartering, peine forte et dure, garroting, beheading or decapitation, shooting and hanging (Kronenwetter 171). These types of punishments tod... Continue Reading