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The Role of Capital Punishment in Lessening Crime

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Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. History of Capital Punishment
  3. Forms of Capital Punishment


This term paper is on one of the most controversy discussion known as Capital Punishment. This is a topic in which the writer believes does not have a positive effect on decreasing crime in the world. For almost three years now, the writer has grown a passion for criminal behavior in some of the notoriety of a few crime cases that resulted in Capital Punishment and Wrongful Executions. One of my personal favorite crime cases in history is the Scottsboro Boys.

This case represents an incident where five innocent African American men nearly faced execution after being accused and convicted of raping two white females on the back of a train back in 1931. This case is one of many reasons I am against capital punishment because it can lead to wrongful deaths of innocent men and women without justified evidences and witnesses. The writer is also against Capital Punishment because a person could be wrongfully convicted and put to death by a grand jury, while the actual criminal may already be sitting in jail for a lesser sentencing or still out committing other crimes.

In this paper, the writer will provide more history on capital punishment, forms of capital punishment, and why many see capital punishment as immoral. The writer will include discussion on the types of crime that can result in a person facing capital Punishment, as well as “Does Capital Punishment have a deterrent effect on lessening crime?”

History of Capital Punishment

Merriam Webster defines Capital Punishment as “the practice of killing people as punishment for serious crimes (“Capital Punishment”). Capital Punishment was once considered ceremony opened to the public until the nineteenth century. Melusky and Pesto (2011) describes the watching of a criminal being executed as an, “quasireligious event in which the condemned man was expected to express his repentance and, in an early version of ‘Scared Straight’ to admonish the children brought to witness the spectacle not to follow his path of crime” (Melusky and Pesto:2).

By the nineteenth century, many states had called to get rid of the death penalty. According to William S. McFeely, Michigan was the first state to remove the death penalty in 1846. Soon after, nine other states had also removed using the death penalty as punishment up until the end of World War I when half of the nine states and a few new states restored the death penalty. As of the summer of 2015, only thirty-one states use Capital Punishment, while nineteen of the fifty states has abolished Capital Punishment according to the Death Penalty Information Center’s website

Unknowingly, Capital Punishment has been around since both Jesus Christ and Socrates time Era stated by Manning and Rhoden-Trader in 2000. For readers that follow in the story of Jesus Christ know that he was put to death for believing he was “King of Jews”. As for those who study history know that Socrates was poison to death for corrupting the young with ideas. As time went on, more people were faced with capital punishment. Captain George Kendall become the first adult to be executed for being a spy in 1605. Twenty-seven years later, Jane Champion became the first women to be put to death. Years later in Massachusetts, the first teenager was executed for sexual activity with an animal. By June of 1944, 14-year-old George Stinney became the youngest murderer put to death after murdering two white girls.

Forms of Capital Punishment

Early history saw Hangings as a primary form of Capital Punishment. A usual Hanging would take place in the middle of town using a rope thrown across over a tree. American at the time were in favor of Hangings. Dieter (2008) states the reason why American favored Hangings was due to, “its simplicity as well as its roles in sending a strong message to the entire community affected by the crime” (Dieter, 2008:790).

According to authors Melusky and Pesto (2011), 1883 to 1853 described as “great reform era”. During this period, the hangings had more chaos and become less about the criminal’s repenting. Viewers would fight one another for better view of the hangings and curses at the widow or victim (Melusky and Pesto, 2011). To reduce the chaos, many states by 1849 developed laws where hangings were only allowed to be carried out in correctional facilities. By 1890, New York become the first state to use electrocution as their main method of Capital Punishment. The intention of using electrocution was “to provide a more dignified and less painful method of death for the accused” (Dieter, 2008: 791).

Many people saw being sentenced to death by electrocution as making it less human than death by hanging. As of today, states have adapted using lethal injection as the main form of Capital Punishment. Due to shortages in drugs, states have adapted new lethal injection methods. According to Death Penalty Information Center’s website, before the shortages in drugs, it is said that:

Most states used a 3-drug combination of lethal injections: an anesthetic (usually sodium thiopental, until pentobarbital was introduced at the end of 2010), pancuronium bromide (a paralytic agent, also called Pavulon), and potassium chloride (stops the heart and causes death). (“State by State Lethal Injection”). Since then, most states have adapted new lethal injection methods that range from one to two drug need.

In order for Capital Punishment or the death penalty be considered as a punishment in a crime, a person must have commit one of the following crimes:

  • Murders that involves the death of high authorities such as police officers, judges, juror, President or Congress.
  • Death of many people such as a genocide or hijacking of an aircraft or train.
  • Espionage
  • First Degree Murder

Melusky and Pesto (2011) states that in 2011, twelve executions have happened.

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The Role Of Capital Punishment In Lessening Crime. (2018, October 17). GradesFixer. Retrieved April 1, 2023, from
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