History of the Death Penalty Sample Essay

When British colonists came to the new universe. they brought with them the pattern of capital penalty. In 1608. Captain George Kendall of Jamestown accused of being a undercover agent for Spain was the first recorded executing. The Divine. Moral and Marital Laws enacted by Virginia Governor Sir Thomas Dale. in 1612. imposed the decease punishment for piddling discourtesies. such as ; stealing grapes. killing poulets and trading with the Indians.

Capital Punishment Torahs varied from settlement to settlement. similar to today. which is from province to province. Massachusetts Bay Colony’s first executing was in 1630. even though decease punishment Torahs of the New England Colonies did non travel into consequence until old ages subsequently. New York Colony had Duke’s Laws of 1665. which added striking your female parent or male parent. or denying the “true God. ” punishable by decease.

Early executings were public. held in town squares. where big crowds would garner to watch. Executions moved indoors and out of public position. once penitentiaries started to be built. in 1834. During the Civil War. some provinces began to reform Torahs and get rid of the decease punishment. in favour of life in prison. Then during the first half of the 20Thursdaycentury. public support for Capital Punishment grew. Capital Punishment has been a controversial issue for centuries. ( DPIC. 2007 )

The 1930’s saw the highest degree of executings to day of the month. an norm of 167 people was put to decease each twelvemonth. In l960 public support waned once more and the legality of the decease punishment itself was challenged. In l972. the United States Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the Death Penalty was “cruel and unusual” penalty and a misdemeanor of the Constitution. Technically that ended Capital Punishment in the United States. nevertheless. single provinces found ways to amend their Death Penalty Torahs to do them legal.

Throughout the origin of the Death Penalty. in the Colonies. assorted methods of executing have been used ; firing. pressing. gibbeting ( hanging by ironss ) and the most common. hanging. Presently five methods are used in the U. S. ; deadly injection. burning. gas Chamberss. hanging and firing squad. From 1976 to September 2007. out of 1098 executings. 928 have been from deadly injection ; 154 by burning ; 11 by the gas chamber ; 3 by hanging and 2 by firing squads. Lethal injection has become the standard method.

Rob Gallagher. in his enlightening article.Before the Needle.high spots the per centum of executings and methods by decennaries:

1608-1708: 34 % for slaying 86 % hanged

1709-1808: 31 % for slaying 91 % hanged

1808-1908 66 % for slaying 96 % hanged

1909-1991 56 % for slaying 64 % electrocuted

Capital Punishment is presently imposed on so few convicted liquidators ( less than one per centum ) that some defence lawyers call it “cruel and unusual. ” penalty. The punishment is legal in 38 provinces. Texas. Virginia. Oklahoma. Missouri and Delaware have the highest rates of executings. accounting for 60 % of the states total from 1977 to 2003.

Landmark Death Penalty Court Cases

Furman v. Georgia: Argued on January 17. l972. decided on June 29. l972.

The victim surprised Furman while he was burglarising the victim’s place in the center of the dark. A individual handgun shooting fired through the closed kitchen door from the exterior. as he was seeking to get away. killed the householder. Furman’s versiion at his test. helped convict him of first-degree slaying. He said. “They got me charged with slaying and I admit. I admit goint to these folks place and they caught me in there and I was coming back out. . . the gun went off and I did non cognize nil about no slaying until they arrested me. and when the gun went off I was down on the floor and I got up and ran. That’s all to it. ” ( ACLU )

Pending test Furman was committed to the Georgia Central State Hospital for a psychiatric scrutiny. on his tribunal appointed advocate. Anthony Amsterdam’s supplication of insanity. The staff diagnonsis was Mental Deficiency. Mild to Moderate. with Psychotic Episodes Associated with Confulsive Disorder. The overseer. nevertheless. concluded that Furman was non psychotic at present. cognize right from incorrect. and was able to stand test ( Justia. com ) .

At test. the jury merely knew that William Furman was black. 26 old ages old and worked at the “Superior Upholstery. ” It took them 35 proceedingss to return a guilty finding of fact and a decease punishment sentence. On entreaty to the Supreme Court a 5-4 split in turn overing the sentence. saying it violated the 8Thursdayand 14ThursdayAdmendments. Justice Potter Stewart. one of the bulk. wrote that “these decease sentences are barbarous and unusual in the same manner that being struck by lightning is barbarous and unusual. . . ” The Supreme Court ruled the decease punishment was unconstitutional because it was implemented in an. “arbitrary and capricious” mode. Furman v. Georgia’s groundbreaing result. direct provinces back to their “legislative drawing boards. ” to invent decease punishment statute law that would avoid this claim. Legislative acts should do clear why people who commit the same offense. make non all receive the same penalty ( Foley. 2006 ) .

McCleskey v. Kemp:Argued October 15. l986. decided April 22 l987.

Warren McKleskey. an Afro-american adult male was convicted of slaying a white constabulary officer in Fulton County. Altanta. Georgia. on October 12 1978. Several hebdomads after the incident he was arrested for an unrelated discourtesy. he confessed take parting in armed robbery. but denied he had shot the constabulary officer. At test. grounds that the deathly slug came from a. 38 quality Rossi six-gun. matched the description of McCleskey’s gun during the robbery.

Under Georgia jurisprudence. the jury needs to happen the suspect guilty. beyond a sensible uncertainty. that the slaying was accompanied by one of the statutory aggravating fortunes to enforce the Death Penalty. The jury found two: “the slaying was committed during the class of an armed robbery. and the slaying was committed upon a peace officer engaged in the public presentation of his responsibilities. ” ( Powell. n. d. ) . McCleskey was sentenced to decease.

During his entreaty. McKleskey brought before the tribunal a well-known. statistical survey. called the “Baldus Study. ” conducted by Professor David C. Baldus. Charles Pulaski and George Wardsworth. The survey indicated that jury’s inGeorgia were far more likely ( 22 % ) to enforce the decease punishment if the victim was white and the attacker was black. Harmonizing to McKleskey. this survey proved Georgia used a “guided-discretion strategy. ” which came into fruition because of the Furman v. Georgia instance. that the state’s utmost racism violated both the 8ThursdayAmendment and the “equal protection. ” clause of the 14Thursday


The Court rejected the statement. observing that McCleskey offered no grounds to suport his ain illation that racial consideration effected his test. ( Coenen. 2004 ) . His decease sentence was non disproportional to other decease sentences imposed in the province. Decisions for enforcing the decease punishment since the Furman instance identified a constitutionally tolerable scope of discretion and directive. Georgia had to set up cogent standards to contract juries’ opinion. to separate valid fortunes. and significantly demo the decease punishment is disproportional to a peculiar discourtesy. McCleskey was electrocuted by the province. in September. l971.

California v. Anderson:

Robert Page Anderson’s milepost instance outlawed the usage of Capital Punishment in California. Anderson was convicted of 1stdegree slaying. attempted slaying of three work forces and 1stdegree robbery. He was sentenced to decease. but under California jurisprudence was automatically granted an entreaty to the State Supreme Court. this jury upheld the finding of fact and punishment. In Anderson’s concluding entreaty. the Court. found the decease punishment to be barbarous

and unusual penalty.

The distinctive feature of the three tests were utmost. in the original test ( l966 ) . the Court didn’t rise any concern that the decease punishment was unconstitutional ; the 2neodymiumhearing. in l968. the Court did raise the issue. but decided the punishment was neither barbarous nor unusual. and the concluding test. it found Capital Punishment to be unconstitutional.

Eighty-three inmates on Death Row at California’s San Quentin Prison. waiting for the opinions on Anderson’s entreaties. gained a stay of executing. Fortunately. his entreaties came at an opportune clip. when society had come to see executings as a cruel and unusual signifier of penalty. and California had earned a repute as one of the most broad provinces in the state. The concluding opinion overturned all decease punishment sentences and commuted them to life in prison ; it besides stated that any individual convicted of slaying. before 1972. could non be sentenced to decease. Subsequently in l972. statute law was passed reinstating the decease punishment in California ( Time. l968 ) .

Statistical Surveies on Deterrance:

What are the deductions of the Death Penalty for discouraging slaying incidents? Theoretically a simple premiss. raise the bets for convicted liquidators and there will be less slayings. Numerous surveies have been published over the past few old ages utilizing panel informations sets and sophisticated societal scientific discipline techniques. The surveies are picturing that the

Death Penalty saves lives.

Professors Hashem Dezhbahsh. Paul R. Rubin and Johanna M. Shepherd of Emory University found that each executing consequences in 18 fewer slayings. State-level panel

information was used from 1960-2000. utilizing the moratorium as a “judicial experiment. ” to contrast the correlativity between executings and slayings.

The survey showed a pronounced addition in the homicide rate during the moratorium.

Professor Shepherd conducted a separate survey with two aims:

What kinds of slayings are deterred ; and what affect the length of the decease row delay had on disincentive? She used informations nused in the Capital Punishment literature: monthly slaying and executing informations. The Professor believed monthly informations was a more efficient step of disincentive for two grounds: able to detect monthly slaying fluctuations. and merely monthly informations allows a representation. in which. felons update their alleged executing hazard moral force.

Shepherd’s studied from1977-1999 and found three of import factors: 1 ) each executing was associated with three fewer slayings. 2 ) Executions deter the slaying

African Americans. Each executing prevents the slaying of one white individual. 1. 5 African-Americans and 0. 5 individuals of other races. 3 ) Shorter delaies on decease row associated with an addition in detterence. For each extra 2. 75 twelvemonth decrease in delay. one slaying is deterred. Professor Sheherd besides concluded that Capital Punishment deters slayings antecedently understood to be undetterable: offenses of passion and muder by dealingss.

Professors H. Naci Mocan and R. Kaj Gittings of the University of Colorado published two surveies corroborating the disincentive of Capital Punishment. The first survey compiled state-level informations. from l977-1997. found for each executing about five slayings were

avoided. An inmate remotion from decease row. by the Courts. is associated with an addition of one extra slaying. Professors Mocan and Gittings conducted several analyses to battle unfavorable judgment. and found that their original findings provided immense

support for the detterent consequence of Capital Punishment and the homicide rate.

Paul Zimmerman. a Federal Communications Commission economic expert. supports the deterrent consequence of Capital Punishment. Using informations from l978-1997. he found each executing consequences in 14 fewer slayings. Zimmerman’s 2nd survey examined whether the method by which Death Penalty provinces conduct their executings reduces the homicide rate. Several steps of subjective chance. of being executed are developed taking into history the timing of single executings. The matter-of-fact estimations suggest a deterrent consequence of Capital Punishment is motivated preponderantly by executing conducted by burnings. None of the other four methods are found to hold a significant impact on slaying incidents. ( Muhlhausen. 2007 ) .

These recent surveies conclude that the Death Penalty is a hindrance to homicide rate. Each executing seems to discourage from 3-18 slayings and the moratorium. commuted sentences and decease row remotions. appear to congratulate the Death Punishment by discouraging the rate even further.

Policy Deductions

Capital Punishment in the United States continues to be controversial. There were 53 executings carried out in 2006. the lowest in ten old ages. partly due to legal challenges ensuing in may provinces reexamining their decease punishment policies and processs. Concerns over how deadly injections are administered is doing some provinces to reexamine their procedure to guarantee that deadly injections do non go against the 8ThursdayAmendment proviso against cruel and unusual penalty.

Maryland stopped executings in the province on December 19. 2006 until a legislative panel reviewed the manual detailing the deadly injection process. In California. on December 15. 2006. a federal justice determined the state’s deadly injection procedure to be unconstitutional. This opinion extended the moratorium. which was implemented in February 2006. Governor Schwarzenegger confirms his disposal programs to modify the process so they are constitutional.

Florida Governor Jeb Bush. besides halted deadly injections in December 2006 after a medical examiner’s study showed the drugs used to put to death convicted slayer Angel Nieves Diaz. were given improperly. Diaz. received two doses and informants said he was “visibly in hurting. ” in took thirty-four proceedingss for him to decease. The province has to make up one’s mind if the procedure constitutes cruel and unusual penalty.

Courts throughout the state made several opinions during 2006 that have affected province Capital Punishment policies. In June. the Court. determined that inmates can dispute deadly injection as a civil rights issue. Clarence Hill. on decease row in Florida. since 1982.

for killing a constabulary officer. argues that decease by deadly injection violates his civil rights because the 8ThursdayAmendment bans cruel and unusual penalty.

Individual provinces have guidelines for enforcing the Death Penalty ; some provinces have called for a moratorium while reexamining processs. chiefly in mention to lethal injections. and if it violates the 8ThursdayAmendment. ( USINFO. 2007 ) .

Presently. in the United States. the two common manners of executing are by deadly injection or burning. Harmonizing to Paul Zimmerman’s survey. the chief hindrance is decease by burning. States transporting Capital Punishment Torahs should see choosing for this method. as opposed to lethal injection. Electrocution has non been challenged as unconstitutional. hence rather perchance the better method.


Capital Punishment since its origin with the original Colonies has been a beginning of heartfelt. moral. political and humane contention. Over 60 % of Ameicans are in favour. and the myriad of surveies demoing the Death Penalty as a hindrance to homicide contributes to this bulk. On the impudent side of the proverbial coin. there is a myriad of critics for these documented surveies. Harmonizing to an article by Cassy Stubbs. “The Death Penalty Deterrence Myth: No Solid Evidence That Killing Stops Killing. she makes a really realistic point ; it may be impossible to find a valid statistical relationship between executings and the homicide rate. because the figure of executings is minimum in comparision. Stubbs provinces. “But what we can state with certainty is that there is no legitimate statistical grounds of disincentive. ”

For some people. like Stubbs. sing the Death Penalty as a hindrance may still be a merchandise of belief. nevertheless. her point of “no legitimate” grounds is erroneous. The surveies introduced in this paper are merely three of 100s. Research concludes there is valid grounds depicted in these surveies.

From 1966-1980. which includes the national moratorium on executings ( June. l967-Jan. . l970 ) . slayings in the United States more than doubled from 11. 040 to 23. 040 ; homicide rate jumped from 5. 6 % to 10. 2 % . In l980. the rate plummeted from 10. 2 % to 5. 5 % . The largest diminution in slaying rates have occurred in the 38 provinces that have Capital Punishment Torahs. ( Sharp. 2004 )

Several recent econometric surveies of the consequence of Capital Punishment have progressively provided grounds that it deters homicide. In January. 2000. the Governor of Illinois declared a moratorium pending a reappraisal of the provinces decease punishment procedure. In January. 2003. he commuted the decease sentences of all decease row inmates. Statisticss prove these actions coincided with a dramatic addition in Illinois’s homicide rate. with an estimated 150 extra homicides during this 48 month period.


ACLU ( n. d. )“Furman v. Georgia. ”hypertext transfer protocol: wwwacluprocon. org

Coenen. D. . ( 2004 ) . “McCleskey v. Kemp “ ( l987 )The New Georgia Encyclopedia

hypertext transfer protocol: //wwwgeorgiaencyclopedia. org

DPIC. ( 2007 ) .“History of the Death Penalty. ”Death Penalty Information Center

hypertext transfer protocol: //wwwdeathpenaltyinfo. org

Foley. M. ( 2006 ) .“Toward Understanding the Death Penalty Debate. ”American Library

Association.hypertext transfer protocol: //www. ala. org/ala/acr/acrlpubs/choice/content/essay. cfm

Gallagher. R ( n. d. ) .“Before the Needle. ”hypertext transfer protocol: //www. users. bestweb. cyberspace

Justia ( l972 ) . “United States Supreme Court. Furman v. Georgia. ”( p. 408 )

hypertext transfer protocol: //supreme. justia. com/us/408/238/case. hypertext markup language

Muhlhausen. D. ( 2007 ) .“The Death Punishment Deters Crime and Saves Lives. ”
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Powell. J ( n. vitamin D )“McCleskey v. Kemp. ”Cornell University Law School

hypertext transfer protocol: //www. jurisprudence. Cornell. edu

Sharp. D. . ( 2004 ) .“Crime and Law Enforcement Issues and Death Penalty. ”

All Experts. com.hypertext transfer protocol: //wwwen. allexperts. com

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Stops Killing. ”The Huffington Post.hypertext transfer protocol: //wwwhuffingtonpost. com/casy-stubbs/

Time ( 1968 ) .“Capital Punishment is Constitutional. ”Time in Partnership with CNN.

hypertext transfer protocol: //wwwtime. com/time/magazine/article/0. 9171. 841537. 00. hypertext markup language

USINFO. 2007.“Capital Punishment in United States Continues to be Debated. ”

U. S. Department of State.hypertext transfer protocol: //usinfo. province. gov

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