The Origins Of Capital Punishment

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osh Swearingen The origins of capital punishment, or the death penalty, can be traced back to eighteenth century B.C. Babylon during the rule of King Hammurabi. For centuries after, the death penalty has been an accepted form of punishment in almost every society since. We can trace the origins of the death penalty in the United States to 1608 when Captain George Kendall was executed making him the first person executed in the colonies which would eventually become the U.S. (Death Penalty Information Center [APA], n.d.). The concept of the death penalty isn’t a new one yet there is still a large amount of controversy surrounding this form of punishment. Deciding if it is the government’s job to take one’s life can have rough edges and be…show more content…
It is only a small percentage of court cases that pin an innocent person with heinous crimes to deserve capital punishment but those who oppose capital punishment believe this small percentage is enough to seek other options for punishing these criminals. Opposition of the death penalty also believe that people who commit these heinous crimes, do so because they are not mentally well. According to the New York Times (Dawn, 2017), “The Supreme Court has repeatedly declined to shield mentally ill people from the death penalty, saying only that people who are insane cannot be executed.” This is another area of much controversy because it is hard to identify what the Supreme Court deems as “insane.” This article by the New York Times (Dawn, 2017), also states that the Supreme Court gives their definition of insane as, “those who are unaware of the punishment they are about to suffer and why they are to suffer it.” Much like how a criminal faces trial and is subject to human error, mentally ill criminals undergoing a psychiatric evaluation can be subject to the same human error, as mental illness often shows no physical signs therefore leaving the evaluation up to professional opinion. The definition that the Supreme Court gives for “insane,” excludes most types of

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