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Capital Punishment in the United States

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Currently, capital punishment is a very controversial issue in countries throughout the world, including the United States of America. Capital punishment is defined as the “execution of an offender sentenced to death after conviction by court of law of criminal offence” (“Capital” 1). The death penalty dates back to the laws of ancient China, where it was used as punishment for various crimes (Reggio 1). Early European settlers brought the death penalty to America, and England was the country that had the greatest influence on its use in the colonies. In early Colonial America, persons could receive the death penalty for committing crimes that would be considered as petty today; these crimes included “stealing grapes, killing chickens, and trading with Indians” (“History” 1). Today, in the United States, offenders who have committed heinous crimes, such as murder, treason, espionage, aggravated kidnapping, and aircraft high jacking, can receive the death penalty after they are convicted in courts of law (“Offenses” 3). The United States is not the only country that uses the death penalty as a form of punishment for heinous crimes; in 2012, twenty-one countries in the world implemented it (Sentences 6). In 2012, the five countries in the world that executed the greatest numbers of persons were China (thousands), Iran (314+), Iraq (129+), Saudi Arabia (79+), and the United States (43) (Sentences 48). In 2013, Amnesty International reported that in 2011 and 2012, 680 and 682 executions, respectively, were carried out throughout the world (Sentences 5). These numbers do not include the number of executions in China, a country that has more executions than the entire world’s countries combined, because accurate data cannot be obtaine...

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