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Capital Punishment There has been many controversies in the history of the United States ranging from abortion to gun control but capital punishment has been one of the most hotly contested issues in recent decades Capital punishment is the legal infliction of the death penalty on persons convicted of a crime Cox It is not intended to inflict any physical pain or any torture it is only another form of punishment It is irrevocable because it removes those punished from society permanently instead of temporarily imprisoning them The usual alternative to the death penalty is life-long imprisonment Capital punishment is a method of retributive punishment as old as civilization itself The death penalty has been imposed throughout history for many crimes ranging from blasphemy and treason to petty theft and murder Many ancient societies accepted the idea that certain crimes deserved capital punishment Ancient Roman and Mosaic law endorsed the notion of retaliation they believed in the rule of an eye for an eye Similarly the ancient Egyptians Assyrians and Greeks all executed citizens for a variety of crimes The most famous people to be executed are Socrates and Jesus Only in England during the reigns of King Canute 1016-1035 and William the Conqueror 1066-1087 was the death penalty not used although the results of interrogation and torture were often fatal Kronenwetter 12 Later Britain reinstated the death penalty and brought it to its American colonies Although the death was widely accepted throughout the early United States not everyone approved of it In the late-eighteen century opposition to the death penalty gathered enough strength to lead to important restrictions on the use of the death penalty in several northern states while in the United States Michigan Wisconsin and Rhode Island abandoned the practice altogether Kronenwetter 15 In 1794 Pennsylvania adopted a law to distinguish the degrees of murder and only used the death penalty for premeditated first-degree murder Another reform
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