Capitol Punishment and Federalism

Essay by laurenbrooke2386College, UndergraduateA+, November 2014

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Lauren Harper

Professor Adams

American Government

12 September 2014

Capital Punishment among Federal and State Laws

The first known death penalty laws date back to 1700 B.C., known as the Code of Hammurabi. By the start of the American Revolution (1775) the death penalty was used in all thirteen colonies. In 1787 the Founding Fathers allowed for the death penalty when writing the Constitution. Then in 1790 the first U.S. Congress establishes the Federal Death Penalty. Though capital punishment has been around a long time and is a Federal law, the law and practices of capital punishment vary from state to state.

The death penalty is available very broadly under federal law, where as in some states it is not offered, not executed, or more difficult to obtain when pursued. Presently the federal death penalty is administered to "attain death sentences against defendants in states where the death penalty is not available, where the state prosecution has resulted in a sentence less than death, or where a state death sentence has been overturned on appeals" (Conner 1).

The number of federal capital prosecutions remains small, and the majority of homicide prosecutions are undertaken by state criminal justice systems. Federal law allows the death penalty for crimes such as treason, espionage, and federal murder, large-scale drug trafficking, and attempting to kill a witness, juror, or court officer in certain cases.

The state of Georgia has partook in capital punishment since colonial times with executions recorded as early as 1735. In 1972, Furman v. Georgia was a United States Supreme Court decision that ruled on the requirement for a degree of consistency in the use of the death penalty. This case led to the suspension of the death penalty in the United States from 1972-1976. The victim William Micke returned home to...