Public executions were banned in England in , though they continued to take place in parts of the United States until the s. In the last half of the 20th century, there was considerable debate regarding whether executions should be broadcast on television, as has occurred in Guatemala.
In many countries death sentences are not carried out immediately after they are imposed; there is often a long period of uncertainty for the convicted while their cases are appealed. The European Union regards this phenomenon as so inhumane that, on the basis of a binding ruling by the European Court of Human Rights , EU countries may extradite an offender accused of a capital crime to a country that practices capital punishment only if a guarantee is given that the death penalty will not be sought.
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Introduction Historical considerations Arguments for and against capital punishment Moral arguments Utilitarian arguments Practical arguments The abolition movement Capital punishment in the early 21st century. Written By: Roger Hood. See Article History. Historical considerations Capital punishment for murder , treason , arson , and rape was widely employed in ancient Greece under the laws of Draco fl.
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When considering evolving standards of decency, courts look for objective factors to show a change in community standards and also make independent evaluations about whether the statute in question is reasonable. In Furman v. Georgia , U. The Court reasoned that the laws resulted in a disproportionate application of the death penalty, specifically discriminating against the poor and minorities.
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The Court also reasoned that the existing laws terminated life in exchange for marginal contributions to society. In Gregg v. The Court held the death penalty was not per se unconstitutional as it could serve the social purposes of retribution and deterrence. In performing its proportionality analysis, the Supreme Court looks to the following three factors: 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.
Twenty-one years later, in Kennedy v.
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Louisiana , U. Because only six states in the country permitted execution as a penalty for child rape, the Supreme Court found that national consensus rendered the death penalty disproportionate in these cases.
To impose a death sentence, the jury must be guided by the particular circumstances of the criminal, and the court must have conducted an individualized sentencing process. In Ring v. Arizon a , U. The Supreme Court further refined the requirement of "a finding of aggravating factors" in Brown v. Kansas v. Marsh , U.
A legislature may prescribe the manner of execution, but the manner may not inflict unnecessary or wanton pain upon the criminal. State courts and lower federal courts have refused to strike down hanging and electrocution as impermissible methods of execution. In Baze v.