University of Phoenix
Human Lifespan Development
Death Penalty in the United States
The death penalty has been around since the 13 colonies. The abolishment of death penalty is different for each state. Many states still believe in the death penalty, however; the individuals who receive the death penalty usually sit on death row for a long period of time prior to the execution being carried out. At this time there are 17 states that have abolished the death penalty. Throughout history the death penalty has been carried out by many methods. There are supporting views and opposing views depending upon each state and each individual. The death penalty in the United States is punishable for many different crimes. Some individuals believe the death penalty is a crime itself because it is viewed as murder for murder.
History of the Death Penalty
Early American settlers brought with them a sense of right and wrong strongly based on British law, which focused on personal retribution. Americans held fast to the notion that humankind was naturally licentious which allowed the barbaric nature of the death penalty at the time to flourish. During the Middle Ages establishing guilt before inflicting punishment gained popularity. Battle, Ordeal, and Compurgation were the influential ways this was determined. However, “since humans are fallible the risk of executing the innocent can never be eliminated (Amnesty 2012). Soon the government realized that these methods were ineffective. Trial by jury became the most accepted and effective way of establishing guilt between the eighth and eleventh century AD. Italian philosopher Cesare Beccaria published a book which had a strong impact on the views of the American society and the death penalty. In the United States the colonies while holding onto the British influence gained independence from each other as they grew, and the began to adopt subset lists of crimes that qualified for the death penalty. By 1791 The Bill of Rights reflected that capital punishments were not to be inflicted in ways deemed cruel and unusual. This left much open to interpretation. By the beginning of the nineteenth century America was effectively torn on capital punishment. It came down to seeing the world differently. Half believed that criminals were a product of their environment and even genetic defects which elicited sympathy, and the other half believed that criminals made choices based on their inability to escape some deeply engrained need and desire to do wrong therefore, society was better without them. Soon the death penalty became privatized and the ritualistic act of revenge was no longer as personal. New ways of inflicting the death penalty were created that reflected societies ever-growing need to reduce the barbaric nature of the penalty. The civil rights movement of the 1960’s was not effective in dismissing the death penalty altogether, however the movement did allow states to rewrite what acts should be considered for the penalty. As of today many states still exercise, the right to inflict the death penalty for acts deemed worthy of the punishment.
Where the Death Penalty is Legal and Not Legal
The death penalty is allowed in more than 50% of the United States. There are only 17 states that have abolished the death penalty at this time. Of those 17 states, within the last five years, five states have recently decided against the death penalty (Death Penalty Information Center, 2012). The most recent state abolishing the death penalty is Connecticut, which abolished the death penalty on April 25, 2012 by Connecticut’s governor. However with the abolishment of the death penalty in only 17 states, the states that do allow the death penalty do not usually carry out the executions timely. Many of the individuals waiting for his or her execution remain locked up on death row. Recently, the time