Death Penalty Change Over Time

1043 Words 4 Pages
The history of the death penalty within the United States reflects the many changes to the core value system our country has seen since its inception. Many different aspects of life have impacted these changes, such as religion, politics, major social movements, the burst in scientific knowledge, philosophers/psychologists/criminologists, and our own ever-changing morals. These many facets were not just changed by the laws of our society, but also changed these very same laws, too. The death penalty has seen its many changes throughout American history. Its global beginnings can be confirmed to as far back as the sixteenth century in Egypt, where a nobleman accused of magic was condemned to death through suicide; these spectacular details, …show more content…
These reforms limited the death penalty to two crimes – intentional murder and treason – but only lasted until William Penn’s death in 1718. This did not stop the reformers of the eighteenth century, however. Cesare Beccaria, known as “the father of modern criminal justice,” has left a lasting impact in the history of the death penalty as he is known for his not only his support in extreme punishment reforms, including the abolishment of the death penalty, but also his brutally vengeful forms of punishment during the eighteenth century. Beccaria’s ideas focused more intensely on retributive justice rather than other colonial ideal of deterrence. Following Beccaria’s thoughts on retributive justice, it appears that creating social connections through a collective set of morals would unite society. However, his more brutally retributive forms of punishment, while they may have saved people from the death penalty, some believe today, really led to feelings of hostility, fear, and isolationism of those who broke these societal rules. At this same time, however, there was another famous supporter of the retributive system of punishment – Immanuel Kant, the famed philosopher of the eighteenth century. These later fears of a system of retribution were justified at that time by their simplistic reasoning – humans deserve harsher forms of punishment because they have an independence in thought and actions along with a sense of duty to the universal standard, unlike all other species on the planet. The eighteenth century, by its end, came to see prominent colonial Americans pushing away from a [general and specific] deterrent effect for punishment that required the imposition of the death penalty to truly utilize “scare straight”

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