History of Capital Punishment in America

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Capital Punishment, the process by which the government takes the life of an offender for crimes committed against humanity. Capital Punishment also referred to as the “death penalty” has played a role in the correctional process dating back to 1608 in Jamestown. Over the years the use of Capital Punishment has fluctuated. Like most areas of corrections the death penalty has become reformed and altered to needs of modern day society. Like most controversial issues the majority of people have a firm stance, either supporting or opposing.

The history of the death penalty in the United States has fluctuated greatly over time. In 1608 the first victim of Capital Punishment was executed. Captain George Kendall was sentenced to death and executed for espionage. Shortly after in Virginia Governor Sir Thomas Dale launched the Moral, Devine, and Martial Law. These laws called for the death penalty for non-violent crimes such as stealing, executing chickens, and participating in trade with Native Americans. Much like today the laws pertaining to Capital Punishment fluctuated amongst colonies. In New York the Dukes Law was enacted which brought the death penalty to offenders who were guilty of moral offences, such as denying God.

Almost as soon as the trend of the government sponsored executions began to spread across the developing nation, people opposing the practice began to make a public stand. Cesare Beccaria’s 1767 writing, On Crimes and Punishment had an impact on

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