Early Days Of Capital Punishment Essay

1504 Words Oct 16th, 2016 7 Pages
Early days of capital punishment
George Kendall’s 1608 death by firing squad is the first court-ordered execution known to have been recorded. Because prisons were not in existence until the late 1700’s and early 1800’s, societies dealt with repeat offenders and those who posed a threat to public safety and social order by administering various forms of capital punishment. While early colonial laws did not mimic those of the extreme English laws where some 200 crimes qualified for the death penalty, the colonies believed that crimes such as murder, rape, sodomy, adultery, and some property crimes were worthy of death (Acker, 2003). In colonial times, racial discrimination was extremely prevalent. Black slaves were subject to execution for attempted murder and attempted rape, whereas a white individual might only be sentenced to three years in prison. The abolition of racial discrimination at sentencing first began with the northern states with the country’s preoccupation with the American Civil War, but the southern states would not follow suit for quite some time. Still, the execution of black defendants was severely disproportioned to their population. According to Banner (2002, p. 230), “The death penalty was a means of racial control”.
Cruel & Unusual The ratification of the Eighth Amendment into the Bill of Rights in 1791 prohibited the infliction of cruel and unusual punishment. No longer could offenders be tortured or subjected to otherwise barbaric treatments as…

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