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Capital Punishment The death penalty dates back to colonial times where American colonies inherited this system of law from the British When European settlers came to the new world they brought the practice of capital punishment with them Of course each of the colonies had its own criminal code In early Puritan Massachusetts the list of capital crimes included witchcraft and adultery While in Pennsylvania limited the death penalty to crimes of treason and murder In other colonies one could be given the death penalty for minor offenses such as stealing grapes killing chickens and trading with Indians In a New York colony offenses such as striking ones mother of father or denying the true God were punishable by death In the Tenth Century AD hanging became the usual method of execution in Britain The number of capital crimes in Britain continued to rise throughout the next two centuries By the 1700s 222 crimes were punishable by death in Britain including stealing cutting down a tree and robbing a rabbit warren The American colonies followed some of what the British did The American colonies added some to their form of the death penalty by making the hangings public The one being hung would have a few things to say about how he or she was sorry of committing punishable by death Those that werent hung were spies traitors and deserters who would face a firing squad Then in 1888 New York built the first electric chair it was believed the newly harnessed power of electricity would prove a more scientific and humane means of execution The first execution by means of the electric chair took place in New York in which William Kemmler was put to death Soon many other states began to adopt this execution method In 1924 the use of cyanide gas was introduced as Nevada sought a more humane way of executing its inmates Gee Jon was the first person executed
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