Capital Punishment Formal And Legal Foundations

761 Words Mar 18th, 2016 4 Pages
The first execution recorded in the United States happened in 1608.However, the capital punishment formal and legal foundations were not decisively instituted until later in the 17th century when early European settlers created permanent colonies in the new world after the1620s. In colonial America, the penalty of death was usually enforced on those who engaged in offenses such as murder, adultery, bestiality, witchcraft, and blasphemy. Even though, the colonies’ codification of laws and complementary punishments differed, most state codes were indicative of religious beliefs, and thus capital punishment was vindicated on religious grounds. For example, biblical arguments in favor of capital punishment were apparent in the capital laws of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Intensely affected by the Mosaic Code of the Old Testament, famous for the retribution doctrine “an eye for an eye,” the Bay colony’s 1641 Body of Liberties (the penal code) prescribed the death penalty for violation of 13 laws: idolatry, witchcrafts, blasphemy, murder, manslaughter, poisoning, bestiality, sodomy, and adultery, man-stealing, false witness in capital cases, conspiracy, and rebellion. Interestingly, the offenses were listed in the Body of Liberties were escorted by their biblical reference in the Old Testament.
The ruthlessness that described the penal code of the Massachusetts Bay Colony was compassionate in comparison to many offenses about more than 50 penalize by death in England at the…
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