Capital Punishment Through the Ages

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Capital punishment is one of the most controversial issues in America today. There seems to have been arguments surrounding every method used since the beginning of America. Since 1608 there have been about five main methods of execution. These methods are firing squad, hanging, electrocution, lethal gas, and lethal injection. The controversies surrounding each of these methods have sparked the development of the next and supposedly better way to carry out capital punishment. One of the five main documented forms of execution is the firing squad. The firing squad is a group of people, usually soldiers, who are ordered to shoot at a criminal at the same time. This form is completely unique from any other type of execution. It consisted of five or more men reducing the chances of single solider disobeying the order to fire because of moral issues. One way that is said to traditionally use to deal with the moral issues is to have loaded a blank cartridge into one of the rifles, but not tell them who had the blank. This helped each person feel that they did not fire the fatal shot. The firing squad was typically used during times of war and was often the type of punishment for desertion. One such incident was with Private Eddie Slovik by the US Army in 1945. He was the first US solider that was executed for desertion since the Civil War. "It is estimated that 142 men have been judicially shot in the United States and English-speaking predecessor territories since 1608, excluding executions relating to the American Civil War ." After a series of United States Supreme Court rulings, capital punishment was stopped between 1967 and 1976. In January 1977, the first to be executed since that 10 year period was Gary Gilmore, who... ... middle of paper ... .../a> Alan Marzilli M.A., J.D., Capital Punishment (Chelsea House Publishers, 2003) pg#14 Hugo Bedau, Paul Cassell, Debating the Death Penalty (Oxford University Press, Inc, 2004) pg #82

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