Can Capital Punishment be justified?.
Capital Punishment is a highly controversial and emotional subject subject about which most people seem to have strong opinions. The debate is by no means new - there are conflicting references to capital punishment dating back to the Bible. Over two millennia later, we"re still arguing the issue and perhaps we are no closer to resolving it.
In the United States, controversy over capital punishment began in colonial times when, against the wishes of the English Crown, some settlements enacted only a few capital laws. Soon after the war for Independence and the adoption of the Constitution, the Americas" death penalty debate in earnest. Armed with the right to free speech afforded by the new democracy, and infused with a "revolutionary spirit" as well as the philosophies of the European Enlightenment, some Americans began to question whether government should have the power to end life - even the life of a condemned criminal.
The word "capital" in "capital punishment" refers to a persons" head. In the past, people were often executed by severing their head from their body. Today, in the US, most prisoners are murdered by lethal injection. The United States is one of the very few industrialised countries in the World that continues to execute criminals. Furthermore, it is one of a few handful of countries in the World that continues to execute mentally ill people, people with a very low IQ, and child murderers, i.e. people who are under the age of 18 at the time of their crime.
The number of prisoners on death row who were murdered in 2002 increased slightly over 2001. However, the long-term trend appears to be downward. Future numbers are expected to drop because there has been a significant reduction in the new death sentences in recent years. .
In Britain, until the second half of the nineteenth century, capital punishment was used for many offences, not just for murder.