Historical Background Of Capital Punishment

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Historical Background

The first capital punishment, also known as the death penalty, laws were recorded in the Eighteen Century B.C. in King Hammaurabi’s Code of Babylon. This law stated twenty-five crimes punishable by death. Throughout the world many different countries adopted their own capital punishment laws. Some laws, including the Draconian Code of Athens, made capital punishment the punishment for all crimes. These laws allowed punishment by means of impalement, stoning, burning to death, hanging, quartering, and crucifixion among many others (Death Penalty Information Center, 2015). The crimes punishable by death were different for people in different social classes. Slaves could be put to death for crimes such as
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The first recorded capital punishment in the colonies was in 1608 for the suspicion of treason, though the first legal death sentence wasn’t until 1622 for the crime of theft. Colonies capital punishment laws varied as did the crimes punishable by death. The first time reform of capital punishment laws in America were considered occurred between 1776 and 1800 in Virginia. This reforms were headed by Thomas Jefferson and four other men. The proposed bill limited capital punishment to only the crimes of treason and murder. This bill was defeated by only one vote (Reggio, 2014). Capital punishment today is granted through the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Many court decisions have affected the capital punishment including Furman v. Georgia which overturned the death penalty for an African American man with a mental disabilities. This decision stopped all executions for a short time until capital punishment could be better regulated (“Capital Punishment,” …show more content…
Many problems have arisen from this legislation. Racial bias has created a disproportional amount of African American men being put to death. Another problem that has arisen from this legislation is the issue of innocent people being executed. Since 1973 more than one hundred and fifty people have been taken off death row due to their innocence. Another question for this legislation is whether or not it truly does deter crime. The South accounts for eighty percent of all executions in America. Studies show that the South also has a higher murder rate than regions in which no capital punishment laws exist. Every citizen in Alabama is affected by the state’s capital punishment law. Though only citizens who commit capital crimes are directly affected by these laws. The use of capital punishment has slowly declined in Alabama over the last twenty years (Death Penalty Information Center,

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