Gillian Waters 04/12/2007




The Anglo Saxons first introduced capital punishment in Britain.  It is a lethal infliction of death as punishment for violating the law.  It was part of justice for many centuries. In the 18th and early 19th century, there were about seventeen offences, for which a death sentence was carried out.  These included murder, attempted murder, arson, rape, sodomy, forgery, uttering (passing forged or counterfeit monies or bills), coining, robbery, highway robbery (in many cases, this was the offence of street robbery, that we would now call mugging), housebreaking, robbery in a dwelling house, returning from transportation, cutting and maiming (grievous bodily harm), and horse, cattle or sheep stealing.  At the start of the century, the mandatory punishment for murder, was death by hanging, this was done in public to attract large crowds in the hope it would deter them from crime.  This changed in 1868; it became law for executions to be carried out in private, within the walls of county prisons.  The parliament suspended this form of punishment for five years in 1965; it was then abolished completely in 1969.  There have been at least thirteen attempts to bring back the death penalty, but all have failed.


Capital punishment is still carried out in thirty-eight of the fifty states in the United States of America. They carry out this punishment to show people that murder is wrong.  It was reinstated in 1976 after a three-year suspension.  Mostly induced by lethal injection but electrocution, gas chambers, hanging and the firing squad have been used in the past. Some states allow some death row inmates to choose the method by which they will be executed.  Whatever method they decide, an hour or two before the execution, the prisoner is offered a last meal and religious service.  T he last public execution in America was in 1936, the law now limits the witnesses present at an execution.  Currently the average time spent on death row is around eleven years, although in some cases prisoners have been known to have spent over twenty years awaiting the outcome of appeals, and their chance of escaping execution are better if wealthy and/or white, rather than poor and/or black, irrespective of the crimes they have committed.  There is a lot of controversy about the death penalty in America, which centres around four major issues; whether the penalty is being applied fairly across racial, social, and economic classes; whether it is morally correct to kill; whether the death penalty serves as a deterrent; and whether the decisiveness of the penalty is justified, considering possible new evidence or future revelations of improper conduct by the state.  

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Those in favour of capital punishment being reintroduced into the U.K feel this form of punishment removes the worst criminals from society, it protects the innocent from the violence of criminals.  It is evident that dead criminals cannot commit any further crimes, either within prison, after escaping, or being released from it.  They should be made to suffer for the crime they have committed.  Murderers deprive themselves of their human rights when they take a life.  This form of punishment can also save the non-violent prisoners from the hands of these ...

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