Ever death penalty, also known as capital punishment, was

Ever since the beginning of civilization, some form of a “death penalty” has been used. The topic is a very controversial one. Many people agree with it and many people do not. Although it is a popular debate discussion, it is still legally used all over the world. The death penalty is the act of execution to punish a person for committing a crime. The death penalty, also known as capital punishment, was inherited into the American criminal justice system from Great Britain (Holdsworth & Malik 2015). When people first arrived in the United States, the number of offenses that could be punishable by the death penalty was much greater than the number today. The offenses included adultery, theft, “rebelliousness of children”, rape, and murder (Friedman 1993). In fact, in 1644, “Massachusetts Bay Colony executed Mary Latham and James Britton for betraying Latham’s elderly husband and boasting about it.” (Friedman 1993). In the early days of the United States, a Virginia law allowed for the death penalty to be given for a third offense of stealing (Friedman 1993). Around the same time in Massachusetts, “a first time burglar was to be branded on the forehead with the letter B; second offender was to be branded and whipped”, and the third time offense was punishable by death (Friedman 1993). Although these were all crimes punishable by death, the act of raping a child was not one of them. In Massachusetts Bay Colony, a man who raped a child had his “nostrils… slit and seared” and was made to wear a noose around his neck, but wasn’t sentenced to death (Friedman 1993). Before the year of 1660, there were fifteen legal executions, included “four for murder, two for infanticide, two for witchcraft, three for sexual offenses” and four for being Quakers (Friedman 1993). In the years following the Revolution, however, the laws were updated. The list of offenses that warranted the death penalty was shortened to murder, rape, and treason (Friedman 1993). When the death penalty was first introduced, the most common method was public hanging (Friedman 1993). However, in 1790 in France, a man named Joseph Ignace Guillotin brought up some concerns with the death penalty. Although he was an abolitionist, meaning he did not agree with the death penalty, he did believe that if it were to be done, it should be done in the most humane way possible. Guillotin “suggested that the death penalty be carried out using a quick mechanical device, specifically a beheading machine”(Swiffen 2016). Antoine Louis, an inventor, heard Guillotin concerns and created what we know today as the Guillotine. In the year 1888 in New York, the electric chair was introduced to disestablish the use of public hanging for a capital punishment. Fast forward to 1968, the United States Supreme Court received concerns that the death penalty was unconstitutional, going against the Eighth Amendment which protects citizens from cruel and unusual punishment. The Supreme Court took this into consideration and came to the conclusion that execution in the form of lethal injection was not “cruel and unusual punishment” (Swiffen 2016). Between the years of 1900 and 1918, which was known as the Progressive Era, ten states abolished the death penalty. These states included Minnesota, North Dakota, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Kansas, South Dakota, Missouri, Arizona, and Tennessee (Galliher 2005). However, in the years to follow, known as the Post-Progressive period, the only two states who didn’t immediately bring back capital punishment was Minnesota and North Dakota (Galliher 2005). It was during the years that followed World War I and during the Great Depression that these states, except for Colorado, brought back capital punishment. They believed “that crime would accompany poverty and unemployment” and therefore the death penalty was necessary (Holdsworth & Malik 2015). The 1930s hold the highest amount of executions in any decade, totalling to 1676 deaths (Bohm 2012). In the following decade, this number declined to 1289 executions (Bohm 2012). A study done by Austin Sarat, Robert Kermes, Haley Cambra, Adelyn Curran, Margaret Kiley, and Keshav Pant focused on the death penalty in the states of Texas, Connecticut, and Kansas. Between the years 1819 and 1923 in Texas, there were 394 legal executions. 390 of those executions were done by public hanging, which was often referred to as “barbaric”, and the remaining 4 executions were carried out by firing squad (Marquart et al. 1993). Additionally, during this time period there was a lot of “extrajudicial lynchings, forms of private revenge for which records were not consistently kempt” (Sarat et al. 2017). In 1924, Huntsville prison in Texas started using the electric chair for all their executions in order to make them more professional and more legitimate (Marquart et al. 1993). In 1964, the state stopped all executions. In 1976, the use of capital punishment was brought back and the first person executed after the reinstitution of the law took place in 1982. There were many arguments made by abolitionists in Texas in the 20th century. Some of their reasons, nearly 67% at the beginning of the century,”were made in philosophical, moral, and religious terms” (Sarat et al. 2017). However, “by the century’s end, only about 40% of abolitionist arguments were framed in that way” (Sarat et al. 2017). Along with those issues, “at the start of the 20th century, about 25% of abolitionist arguments raised issues involving cost and/or deterrence” (Sarat et al. 2017). Also, “slightly more than 10% of abolitionist arguments in Texas criticized the death penalty’s administration”, and by the time the century was ending, this percentage had tripled (Sarat et al. 2017). The death penalty in Connecticut was abolished in 2012 by the Connecticut Legislature, making it the 17th state in the United States to end capital punishment. Prior to 2012, only Connecticut and New Hampshire still had the death penalty in New England (Sarat et al. 2017). In New England, the only state to execute someone in the 1900s was Connecticut. The only two executions in the state were Joseph Taborsky in 1960 and Michael Ross in 2005 (Goodheart 2011). In 2012, “at the time of the abolition, Connecticut had eleven inmates on death row” (Sarat et al. 2017). Most of the arguments against capital punishment in Connecticut were the same as in Texas. “At the start of the 20th century, approximately half of abolitionist arguments… focused on questions of morality and religion” and “by the end of the century, this number dropped slightly to about 45%” (Sarat et al. 2017). 24% of the arguments addressed the administration of capital punishment, which increased to 32% by the late 1900s (Sarat et al. 2017). Whereas 30% of the arguments at the beginning were related to issues with cost, this percentage decreased to 23% by the 1990s (Sarat et al. 2017).To end their study, Sarat, Kermes, Cambra, Curran, Kiley, and Pant focused on the death penalty in Kansas. Kansas’s criminal justice system handled to death penalty very differently than the other two states from the study. Capital punishment was abolished in Kansas in 1907, and was reinstated in 1935, however the first execution since being brought back did not take place until 1944. To this day, the death penalty is legal in Kansas, yet no one has been executed in the state since the mid 1960s. Arguments in Kansas were similar to those of the previous two states. Arguments regarding moral and religion fell from 59% to 43%, and arguments regarding cost and/or deterrence fell slightly from 28% to 25% over the course of the century.