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Evolution of Capital Punishment

Uploaded by masone4718 on Nov 28, 2004

Capital punishment can be defined as the penalty of death for the commission of a crime. The death sentence has been a traditional form of justice through time. But time, trade and geography has altered its form. In many countries today, capital punishment is a fundamental part of criminal justice systems. The death sentence is a major way of ensuring respect and instilling fear in people. It was not until recent times that the punishment of death was reserved for murder and other major offences. Throughout time, capital punishment has evolved from an extremely gruesome public display, to a more painless and serene type of penalty.
Capital punishment has been around since approximately 1500 BCE (Laurence 2). The criminal condemned was found “guilty of magic” and was sentenced to death. The exact mode of his death was “left to the culprit, who was his own executioner.” (Laurence 2). In England, there is no record of capital punishment earlier than 450 BCE, when it was “the custom to throw those condemned to die in a quagmire.” (Laurence 2). A quagmire is a soft, wet, yielding land. The Mosaic law is “full of mention of the punishment of death . . . the principal mode of execution being stoning”. (Laurence 2). Forms of capital punishment that were common in early times are: the pouring of molten lead on the criminal, starvation in dungeons, tearing to death by “read-hot pincers and sawing asunder”, plus many others. (Laurence 2). The death penalty was not always used for major offences. In the Twelve Tables, from the Roman Empire from approximately 450 CE, many misdemeanors were recognized to be punished by death. Some of these include: “Publishing libels and insulting songs . . . burning a house or a stack of corn near a house . . . cheating, by a Patron, of his client . . . making disturbances in the City at night”. Many of the penalties were carried out by burning at the stake, or in one instance, being “clubbed to death”. (Laurence 3).
In the time of Paul, around 60 CE, crucifixion, burning and decapitation were in use. One of the “cruelties inflicted by Nero on those sentenced to death was impalement”. (Laurence 3). Such an atrocity was practiced...

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Uploaded by:   masone4718

Date:   11/28/2004

Category:   History

Length:   8 pages (1,845 words)

Views:   2156

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