The terms “capital punishment” and “death penalty” get frequently used to imply the same thing. However, some individuals believe that a difference subsists because “death penalty” denotes penalty received and not essentially its implementation whereas “capital punishment” means the execution itself. Other individuals believe that penalty implies punishment and capital suggests death so any variance between the terms is insignificant. In 1896, US first serial killer, Herman Webster, got executed. During Chicago World Fair in early 1890s, Webster opened a small guesthouse, later dubbed the “Murder Castle,” in which he lured unwary female guests. Webster confessed to twenty seven murders, writing a comprehensive account of those activities. However, the real number may have surpassed 100. He was tried and finally hung (Munnings, 2009).
When we read about serial murderers like Webster, we typically feel a feeling of relief that he was caught and killed. Some individuals are still irredeemable, and their actions are so heinous that others believe they should be put to death. In people’s views, the death penalty remains a vital component of the criminal justice system, reserved for the most heinous offenders. As far back as global history records go, the death penalty has been a widespread practice throughout the world, and it’s simple to envision primitive social settings when residents had no option but to execute criminals. Nomadic tribes, for example, may lack permanent facilities for incarcerating thieves and murderers, and releasing criminals may just offer them another opportunity to do more damage. Small forest communities may lack the financial resources to construct detention centers and deploy guards to keep their residents from escaping. Even minor offenses may need severe penalties in these settings in order for these civilizations to exist (Schabas, 2002).
Execution of political and criminal opponents remains employed by nearly all humanities – both to suppress political dissent and to punish crime. In most places where practice of capital punishment exists, it stays reserved for murder, treason, as part of militia justice or espionage. In some nations, sexual crimes such as adultery, incest, sodomy and rape carry the death penalty. Religious crimes like apostasy in Islamic states (the formal rejection of the state religion) also carry death sentences. In many nations that employ the capital offence, drug trafficking remains also a death sentence. In China, serious offences of corruption and human trafficking get punished by death penalty. In militaries, globally courts martial have enforced death sentences for crimes such as desertion, insubordination, mutiny and cowardice (Schabas, 2002).
A blood vendetta or feud occurs when arbitration between tribes or families fails or an arbitration organization is non-existent. This procedure of justice was frequent before the rise of an arbitration organization based on state or organized religion. It may end from crime, a code of honor or land disputes. However, in practice, it stays often difficult to differentiate between one of conquest and a war of vendetta (Walker, 2008).
Elaborations of tribal adjudication of feuds encompassed peace settlements frequently done in a religious compensation and context system. Compensation got established on the principle of replacement which might comprise material (for instance, slave, cattle) compensation, exchange of grooms or brides or payment of blood debt. Settlement rubrics could consent for animal blood for replacement of human blood, or blood money or property transfers or in some instances an offer of another person for execution. The individual offered for execution had not to be the perpetrator of the crime since the system stood built on tribes, not individual beings. Blood feuds could be controlled at meetings. Systems deriving from death rows may survive alongside more radical legal systems or be set recognition by courts (for instance, trial by combat) (Schabas, 2002).
However, the story is changing today: maximum security prisons remain readily available for keeping the most violent offenders. In recent decades, the movement around the world has been obliterating the death penalty. Out of the 195 countries currently, 90 do not permit it, and only around 60 actively practice it. European nations have all but abolished the death penalty and, amongst all industrialized nations, the U.S. stands almost alone. In 2007, around 3,000 people got executed globally, and the five leading countries included: China (470), Iran (317), Saudi Arabia (143), Pakistan (135), United States (42), and Iraq (33) (Reiman, 1998).
Since World War II, there has been a movement toward abolishing the death sentence. In 1977, 16 nations were abolitionist. According to data published in 2012 by Amnesty International, 97 countries had eliminated capital punishment totally, 8 had eliminated for all crimes excepting under exceptional conditions, and 34 had not been employed it for at least the past 10 years or kept under suspension. The other 58 engaged the death penalty in use. Conferring to Amnesty International agency, at least 23 nations stood identified to have had a death penalty carried out in 2010. Additionally, there are nations which do not publish statistics on the use of execution, most considerably China, which remains assessed to execute hundreds of offenders annually. At least 17,000 individuals globally were under death sentence at the start of 2010 (Munnings, 2009).
The employment of the death penalty remains increasingly restrained in retentionist countries including Singapore and Taiwan. Indonesia has carried out relatively few executions in the previous few years. Taiwan, Japan, Singapore, United States and South Korea remain the only developed republics that have retained the capital sentence. The capital sentence remained overwhelmingly practiced in authoritarian and poor nations, which often employed the penalty as an instrument of political oppression. In the 1980s, the democratization of Latin America enhanced the rank of abolitionist nations. This got shortly followed by the fall of communism in Europe, which then sought to enter the EU. Within these countries, the public approval for the death penalty fluctuates but remains generally supported (Schabas, 2002).
The Europe Council and European Union both strictly require its member states not to exercise the death penalty. On the other hand, fast industrialization in Asia has been a growing number of developed nations. In these nations, the death penalty appreciates resilient public support, and the subject receives little consideration from the government and or media. In China, there stands a small but growing effort to eliminate the death penalty entirely. This trend got assimilated by some Middle Eastern and African nations where encouragement for the death penalty remains high. Israel holds the death penalty for Nazis convicted for crimes against humanity (Walker, 2008). The only execution in the history of Israel happened in 1961 after Adolf Eichmann, a prime organizer of the Holocaust, set to death after a trial in Jerusalem, Israel.
Some countries have resumed performing the execution after having suspended it for long periods. The US suspended executions in 1972 and later resumed in 1976, then again in 2007 and 2008. There were no death sentences in India from 1995 to 2004. Sri Lanka declared completion to its suspension on the death sentences in 2004, although it has not, however, performed any death sentences. Philippine re-introduced the capital sentences in 1993 after eliminating them in 1987, but eliminated them again in 2006. Mongolia remains the latest country to go towards abolition. In January 2012, its Government adopted a bill concerning the death sentences to be eliminated (Reiman, 1998).
In early England, public executions remained a sorrowful and solemn occasion, occasionally attended by large gatherings, who also heeded to Gospel message and politicians and local preachers remarks. Trends in the majority of the world have extensively been to adopt less painful or more humanitarian executions. France settled the guillotine for this purpose in the late years of 18th century while Britain proscribed drawing and quartering in early 19th century. Hanging executions by target by kicking of a stool or turning off a ladder, which imposes the death by suffocation, got substituted by long drop “hanging” in which the subject got dropped a longer distance aiming to dislocate the neck, disunite the spinal cord. Shah, a Persian, introduced throat – cutting and gun blowing as painless and quick alternatives to more tormenting methods of executions employed at that time. In U.S., the gas chamber and the electric chair got introduced as more humane substitutes to hanging, but it remains almost entirely outdated by lethal injection, that in turn remains criticized as being too painful. However, some nations still employ slow hanging approaches, sword beheading and even stoning, even though the latter stays rarely used. (Ida Walker, 2008)
- Walker, I., & Bix, B. (2008). The Death Penalty. New York: ABDO.
- Megivern, J. J. (1997). The Death Penalty: As Historical and Theological Survey. Washington: Paulist Press.
- Munnings, S. (2009). The death penalty in the USA and in other countries: Problems and developments on the basis of selected examples. New York: GRIN Verlag.
- Reiman, J. H. (1998). The Death Penalty: For and Against. London: Rowman & Littlefield.
- Schabas, W. (2002). Death Penalty in International Law. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.