Capital Punishment And The Death Penalty

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An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a life for a life. This is the age old doctrine of lex talionis, which appears in the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi that has been used as a code of retaliation for thousands of years. Ancient Babylon used lex talionis as a rule used to decide the severity of punishments for the type of crime committed. If a life was taken, then the murderer was put to death: a life for a life (Hood 1). Capital punishment, or the death penalty, is the practice of executing criminals who have been convicted of a serious crime and, consequently, have been handed a death sentence. Criminals have been put to death for thousands of years, though the execution methods have changed drastically since then to present day. Americans …show more content…
Romans pitted their prisoners, called gladiators, against each other in fights that took place in huge arenas where people gathered to cheer on the gladiators. Roger Hood, the author of Capital Punishment, states that Rome also put prisoners to death in public demonstrations by drowning them ¨in a sealed bag with a dog, cock, ape, and vipers¨, throwing them off of rocks, or a slow death by crucifixion (2). Furthermore, there were public executions in ancient China, where the doomed criminals were either sawed in half, flayed alive, or boiled. Many civilizations in Europe also boiled the convicted, as well as ¨ 'breaking ' on the wheel… burning at the stake, decapitation by guillotine or an axe, hanging, drawing and quartering, and drowning.¨ (Hood 2). The majority of these various executions were usually attended by large crowds. Although public executions were popular centuries ago, they were banned when opinions on capital punishment changed. Public executions were outlawed in England in 1868, and since then many other countries have followed suit with the US 's last public execution happening in the 1930s (Hood …show more content…
Hangings and death by firing squad were the most popular methods of execution in early America (Issitt and Newton 2). According to Matt Ford, an associate director at The Atlantic and author of A Brief History of American Executions, lawbreakers were also ¨pressed between heavy stones, broken on the wheel, or burned alive¨ (1). Although hanging was once popular, it eventually was replaced due to questions of its inhumanity. If the rope used to hang someone is too long it can decapitate a person, but if it is too short it can strangle them slowly. In order to make executions more humane, states have invented and implemented different techniques. Following the invention of electricity, the electric chair was invented in New York. In fact Thomas Edison helped to invent the electric chair, which then led to states adopting it, and the subsequent abolishment of hanging (Ford 1). The electric chair, however, has drawbacks as well. If not set up correctly it could cause an inmate severe pain, but not death. On two occasions in Florida inmates heads caught on fire. Due to this, gas chambers were created. They were filled with cyanide gas, but if not set at the correct temperature the gas will ineffectively conglomerate at the bottom of the chamber (Ford

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