Capital Punishment : The Death Penalty

2027 Words9 Pages
Capital punishment, also known as the death penalty, has laws that date back to the Code of Hammurabi in Babylon. The first recorded death penalty case took place in the 16th century BC where a man was sentenced to death for his alleged use of magic. The death penalty in the United States was influenced by Britain power over the original thirteen colonies. In the 1700’s, Britain had two hundred and twenty-two crimes that could be punished by death. The first legal execution in the United States took place in Virginia in 1622 where the defendant was put to death for theft (PBS). The first state to abolish the death penalty for all crimes except treason was Michigan in 1846. Capital punishment is legal in the federal government and…show more content…
(COL).” The legal movement to abolish capital punishment in the United States has been rooted in the Eighth Amendment. The Eighth Amendment states, “excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted (Cornell).” The argument against the use of the death penalty is rooted in the Eighth Amendment because of the “no cruel or unusual punishment” clause. The proportionality requirement only allows a punishment to be proportional to the crime, thus making the punishment neither cruel nor unusual. In determining proportionality, the court must have “a consideration of the offense 's gravity and the stringency of the penalty; a consideration of how the jurisdiction punishes its other criminals; and a consideration of how other jurisdictions punish the same crime. (Cornell)” While 1700’s Britain had two hundred and twenty two crimes that could be punished by death, the proportionality requirement only allows for a limited number of crimes to be punished by death. According to landmark court cases Coker v. Georgia (1997) and Kennedy v. Louisiana (2008), the death penalty cannot be used in the rape of an adult woman or of a child if the victim did not die. Only a few states allowed for the death penalty in such cases, but the Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty violated the proportionality requirement in such cases (Cornell). The greatest victory
Get Access