Capital Punishment

Many distinctive doctrines in criminal law originated in efforts to restrict the number of capital crimes and executions. For instance, in the late 18th century, when all murder in the United States was punishable by death, Pennsylvania pioneered in dividing murder into two categories. The state enacted laws that authorized punishment of first-degree murder by death, while second-degree murder was punishable by imprisonment only. Elsewhere, penal codes uniformly required death for certain serious crimes. In these jurisdictions, discretionary powers to commute death sentences gradually expanded. (A commutation substitutes a lesser penalty for a more severe one—for example, replacing ...

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of nations, such as Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Norway, and The Netherlands. Although not formally eliminated, it had fallen into disuse in many others, including Brazil, Cape Verde, Iceland, Monaco, and Panama.

The defeat of the Axis powers provided a foundation for the elimination of the death penalty in Western Europe. Some of the nations involved in the war saw abolition of capital punishment as a way to disassociate themselves from the atrocities that had taken place. Italy formally abolished the death penalty in 1947 and the Federal Republic of Germany did so in 1949. The British government instituted a Royal Commission to study capital punishment in 1950 and abolished the death penalty in 1965. (Northern Ireland did not abolish capital punishment until 1973.) By the early 1980s every major country in Europe had stopped executing criminals.

Coincident with this trend in Western Europe, many countries belonging to the Commonwealth of Nations, an association of ...

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crime. However, advocates and opponents of the death penalty dispute the proper interpretation of statistical analyses of its deterrent effect. Opponents of capital punishment see the death penalty as a human rights issue involving the proper limits of governmental power. In contrast, those who want governments to continue to execute tend to regard capital punishment as an issue of criminal justice policy. Because of these alternative viewpoints, there is a profound difference of opinion not only about what is the right answer on capital punishment, but about what type of question is being asked when the death penalty becomes a public issue.

Execution by Guillotine During the ...

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PAPER DETAILS
Added: 3/26/2011 05:42:30 AM
Submitted By: rituta
Category: Legal Issues
Type: Premium Paper
Words: 1725
Pages: 7

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