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In simple terms capital punishment is the lawful taking of a persons life after conviction for a crime Flander 3 In an historical aspect capital punishment traces as far back as the earliest times of Western Civilization The first criminal laws were the practice of personal justice Stephen Flanders writes in his book Capital Punishment the infliction of death for purpose of retribution has been a facet of human existence since earliest times Even before the emergence of organized societies individuals killed to avenge wrongs done to them and their families There was no code that specified wrongful conduct or penalties such behavior would incur 4 The earliest recorded sets of laws were known to Western society as the Babylonian Hammurabi code It decreed the death penalty for crimes as minor as the fraudulent sale of beer Egyptians were also killed for disclosing sacred burial places and for the theft of valuable heirlooms Flander 5 Historica lly one of the reasons societies had relied so heavily on the death penalty was that other punishment options did not exist Flander 6 As more organized social structures developed crimes were divided into public and private offenses Public offenses such as witchcraft and blasphemy were punished by the state while private offenses still were answered by acts of personal retribution Flander 4 The debate over this issue continues to be questioned in both the courts and the congress Debate about the death penalty usually turns on by issues of fairness morality and effectiveness another important point bought up among many is the topic of taxpayers money Costanzo 59 People who oppose of capital punishment believe that the death penalty is unfair When the issue of fairness is debated the question asked most often is the death penalty racist The statistics show that blacks who kill whites are much more likely to get the death penalty of the 253 executions since the death penalty was reinstated only one white
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