• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Capital Punishment Amendment Act 1868

Extracts from this document...


Capital Punishment Amendment Act 1868 We, as a society, have a long history of death as the ultimate punishment. In Britain it was in use as an answer to murder right up until 1965. Over time it transgressed, from being simple retribution for a crime against ones person and/or property, to being both this and a deterrent to others considering the same. Thus the spectacle of death was created, not so much as a form of punishment for the individual, but more as a show of what would happen if others chose to follow him. In the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries England had over 200 capital offences, collectively known as the 'Bloody Code', although the sheer number is, in itself, misleading. The offences were very particular and due to this and the fact that in over 90 per cent of cases pardons were given1, they were gradually eroded. The Offences Against the Person Act in 1861 finally removed the death penalty for all crimes except murder and treason. Public executions were big events in London with attendance rivalling many well known political meetings of the time2. According to Emsley these levels would have been increased, in part, because of the growth of the press in the period3. ...read more.


This conclusion seems a little to obvious and easy to draw, rather like us today claiming that violent films equal violent people. To simplify the issue like this was to remove autonomy from the masses. This, unfortunately, is exactly what did happen however. Those who liked to see themselves as upstanding and civilised members of society began to question the motives and intentions of those who chose to attend executions. It became something which respectable people simply did not do and as such labelled those who went as rough, uncouth, villainous types, people to be feared and avoided. This is where the second argument for abolition stemmed from although the initial intention was for the complete removal of capital punishment, public or not. The abolitionists calling for an end to the death penalty took the 'disorder and immorality of the crowd'13to be the focal point in their argument because it would have been difficult to argue that it was not an effective remedy against re-offending. This was a mistake however; it was this constant complaining about the conduct of the masses that drew the legislative eye away from the death penalty as punishment in itself and allowed it to focus on the conclusion that the crowd should be removed to make it more effective14. ...read more.


1 'The Hanging Tree', V.A.C. Gatrell, Oxford Press, p. 21 2 ibid p.56 3 'Crime and Society in England 1750-1900', Clive Emsley, Longman Press, p.260 4 ibid p. 265 footnote 20 William Makepeace Thackeray 'Going to See a Man Hanged' Frasers Magazine 22 (1840) 5 opcit, Gatrell, p.31-32 6 opcit, Emsley p.259 7 'The Common Hangman' James Bland at www.hangman.info/hangman1.htm 8 opcit, Emsley, p.260 9 'Civilising Punishment: The End of Public Execution In England', Randall McGowan, Journal of British Studies, vol. 33, issue 3 July 1997 accessed via JSTOR p.274 10 ibid, p259, Henry Fielding 'Complete Works', p.122-26. 11 'Dickens and Crime', 1964, p.225-227 found in 'The Hanging Tree', V.A.C. Gatrell. 12 Opcit, McGowan, p.264 13 Opcit, McGowan, p.266 14 ibid, McGowan, p. 266 15 opcit, re Thackeray 'Going to Se a Man Hanged' 16 This is getting back into the 'violence breeds violence' debate referred to earlier in the essay, one which was a popular criticism of public executions at the time. 17 'Observations on the Present State of the Parochial and Vagrant Poor', John Scott, p97-99, found in McGowan p.260-261 18 'Speech in Favour of Capital Punishment' J.S. Mill, via link www.cepa.newschool.edu/het/profiles/mill.htm 19 opcit, Emsley, p.278 20 opcit McGowan p.274 21 Public Records Office at www.pro.gov.uk/inthenews/capital-pun/capi-1.htm 22 opcit, Gatrell, p.589 citing Radzinowicz 23 opcit, Gatrell, p.57 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Capital Punishment section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Capital Punishment essays

  1. Should capital punishment be brought back in the U.K.

    life knowing that the killer is always out there and will probably commit other crimes. Capital punishment does not only lower the murder rate its value as retribution alone is a good reason for handing out death sentences. Some people who are against bringing back capital punishment say that we

  2. Written Speech: Capital Punishment - MOTION:

    It is no surprise that these children grow up to become violent and savage-like. Their minds are fed with evilness from these executions and sooner or later they end up thinking that there is nothing wrong with violence and that there is nothing wrong with brutally murdering each other for crimes, which should not be punished by death.

  1. Capital Punishment

    He saw this as a moral fact, as pleasure and pain identified what we should and shouldn't do. As a hedonist, Bentham believed that pleasure was the sole good and pain the sole evil. He then developed the utility principle, whereby the rightness and wrongness of an action is determined by its utility or "usefulness."

  2. The British Penal System

    has taken away the life of someone else and raped someone because I personally feel these offences can never reform someone's life. The victim's life will never, again be in a state of full well being. On the other hand for minor offences such as robbery, these can be dealt

  1. Vampires in Myth & History

    Western scholars seriously considered the existence of vampires for the first time rather than just brushing them off as superstition. It all started with an outbreak of vampire attacks in East Prussia in 1721 and in the Austro-Hungarian empire from 1725-1734. Two famous cases involved Peter Plogojowitz and Arnold Paole.

  2. Capital Punishment, is it an effective or ineffective deterrent?

    there were only 12 countries , along with a few constituent states that had abolished it completely Colombia (1910), Costa Rica (1877), Ecuador (1906), Federal Republic of Germany (1949), Honduras (1956), Iceland (1928), Monaco (1962), San Marino (1865), Uruguay (1907), Venezuela (1863).

  1. Capital punishment is barbaric and inhumane.

    mind that there is always the possibility, however remote, that an innocent person may be executed. It is too late to reverse the decision or compensate the prisoner for a miscarriage of justice after the death sentence has been carried out.

  2. Is an eye for an eye a legal remedy in the 21st century?

    The United Nations was set up in 1948 after WWII with the essential aim of protecting the Human Rights of every man, women and child. The UN is a form of the community of states governed by international law with effective organization by the states.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work