Inthe United States of America the death penalty is a stronglyrecognized concept since its establishment. It is normally handed outto individuals found guilty of committing capital crimes. Even so,this phenomenon has attracted numerous controversies since humanrights bodies do not believe it is the most effective way to punishthe guilty. In this paper, I will discuss death penalty’s historyin criminal justice, assess its historical data, and outline the lawsand policies, which addressed it historically.
Historically,the death penalty traces back to America’s 1600s colonial erarecorded in the 1787 constitution and through to modern times makingit part of its practices and laws (Tibbs, 2016). Around these period,death penalties often included a range of crimes not excluding tradeactivities with the Native American. Since the colonial Americaexperienced profound Great Britain influence, they followed throughwith their death penalty trends. Between the years of 1900 and 1950,America experienced the highest prolific utilization of the deathpenalty throughout history compared to any other time frame (Steiker,2015). Further, the years of 1967 to 1977 presented an end to theseexecutions particularly when the Supreme Court deliberated andprovided a ruling regarding the death penalty constitutionality(Steiker & Steiker, 2015). In 1972, the court claimed that thecapital punishment practice was unpredictable and uninformed pointingout that it breached the United States constitutional ban againstunusual and cruel punishments. Despite this, the most of the statespromptly revised these statutes, which allowed some of the recentlaws to meet the approval of the Court in 1976 (Steiker, 2015).Consequently, the executions recommenced and gradually elevated tohaving almost a hundred deaths yearly.
Thedeath penalty history in the U.S is normally shaped by publicopinion, judicial rulings, and legislation (Mc Gann & Sandholtz,2012). These factors had a significant influence on the totalconcentration of death row and executed prisoners. In agreement withMc Gann & Sandholtz (2012), between 1953 and 1998, the sum of thesentences prisoners grew unhurriedly but progressively until the year1971. During this time 620 individuals held the death sentence. Afterthe Supreme Court finding the death penalty unconstitutional, thisnumber declined to 162 by the year 1973. However upon revision, thedeath row inmate numbers increased exponentially from 1978 to 1998,which captured the attention of human rights agencies because of thegrowing cases of innocent executions (Steiker & Steiker, 2015).
Inthe early centuries, the congress formed the basic comprehensivefederal offenses by passing the 1790 Crimes Act specifyingtwenty-three criminal offences (Steiker, 2015). The Act held acompulsory death penalty for crimes such as treason, forgery, piracy,and murder among others. Over time, the 5th,8th,and 14thConstitutional Amendments were seen to permit the practicesassociated with the death penalty. However, Mc Gann & Sandholtz(2012) note that the early 1960s played a revolutionary change in thedeath penalty legality since there were suggestions that this form ofpunishment was unusual and cruel. Resultantly, this made it anunconstitutional practice as far as the 8thAmendment was concerned. In the case of Trop v. Dulles in 1958despite it not being related to the death penalty, the Supreme Courtruled that this Amendment involved evolving decency standards, whichrepresented a progressing society (Tibbs, 2016). The logic wasapplied to execution cases claiming the U.S should not tolerate thisform of sentence.
Inclosing, it is evident that the death penalty has a long history andattracts many issues from the public, human rights activists andreligion among others. Despite this, it is important to know itshistory so that one can understand the practice in modern times. Thedeath penalty may be a hard punishment for criminals to bare but whenthe constitution is followed, then the Court has the right sentenceoffenders.
McGann, A., & Sandholtz, W. (2012). Patterns of Abolition, 1960-2005: Domestic and InternationalFactors1. InternationalStudies Quarterly, 56(2),275-289
Steiker,C. S. (2015). Criminal Procedure in the Spotlight: The American DeathPenalty and the (In)Visibility of Race. UniversityOf Chicago Law Review, 8224
Steiker,C. S., & Steiker, J. M. (2015). The American andthe (In)Visibility of Race. UniversityOf Chicago Law Review, 82(1),243-294
Tibbs,D. F. (2016). Halt & Reform?: The & CriminalSentencing Guidelines Reform: Towards an Abolition Democracy: The, Circa 2015. WidenerLaw Journal, 258
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