A brief history of the death penalty in the US and the current trends.

Essay by wpd091University, Bachelor'sA, May 2004

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Death Penalty


The death penalty had been debated for decades. Many advocates are for the death penalty, but many more, now more than ever, are taking the stance that the death penalty is cruel and unusual punishment. The death penalty, like any other punishment for crimes committed, is meant to be a deterrent. Is it time to abolish the death penalty - or make it more efficient, less gruesome, and more certain? I am not able to answer this question with definite words and I will not even try to attempt, but I will provide some facts and my own opinions on the death penalty.

In the United States, the authorized methods of execution vary by state but include lethal injection, electrocution, hanging, firing squad, and lethal gas. Although these ultimate and finite punishments exist, they have never been shown to deter crime effectively as or more effectively than other punishments.

This shows that the death penalty is not working and its purpose is no longer valid and can very well be an inhuman and cruel punishment. In a 1993 poll, 44% of Americans preferred life without parole that included restitution rather than the death penalty. Less Americans, only 41% preferred the death penalty and 15% were not decided. Given alternatives to the death penalty, more Americans will choose the alternative.

During the early eighteenth century many persons were responsible for reforming the way punishments for crimes committed were meted. Cesare Beccaria was one person who helped bring some dignity to people accused and punished for crimes. In 1767 Cesare Beccaria wrote an essay, On Crimes and Punishment. Cesare believed that there was no justification to take another human life as a punishment for a crime committed. He thought that the prevention of crimes was more important than the...