Capital Punishment is the legal infliction of death as penalty for violating criminal law. It is a very controversial issue because critics of capital punishment contend that it is brutal and degrading, while supporters consider it a necessary form of retribution for terrible crimes. Those who advocate the death penalty assert that it is a uniquely effective punishment that deters crime. However, advocates and opponents of the death penalty dispute the proper interpretation of statistical analyses of its deterrent effect. Opponents of capital punishment see the death penalty as a human rights issue involving the proper limits of governmental power. In contrast, those who want governments to continue to execute tend to regard capital punishment as an issue of criminal justice policy. Because of these alternative viewpoints, there is a profound difference of opinion not only about what is the right answer on capital punishment, but about what type of question is being asked when the death penalty becomes a public issue.(encarta) .
Some of the early methods in the history of capital punishment include: crucifixion, stoning, drowning, burning at the stake, impaling, and beheading; however all these methods have now been deemed uncivilized and unnecessary. Executions were usually public and not just for serious offenses, but also for a variety of less serious offenses. Later, they were relocated behind closed doors and governments replaced such uncivilized methods with more modern forms such as electrocution, gas, and lethal injection. Currently the United States primarily uses lethal gas, lethal injection, electrocution, hanging, and shooting as Capital punishment. Federal law provides the death penalty for more than 40 crimes, including treason, various forms of aggravated murder, and large-scale drug trafficking. 12 states do not have a death penalty while the other 38 states provide that some crimes can be punished with death.