Abolition of the Death Penalty – Research Paper Example

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The paper "Abolition of the Death Penalty" is an excellent example of a research paper on social science. Capital punishment as it is called in judicial jargon was introduced in the UK as early the 5th century by the Anglo Saxon invaders. The punishment was upheld tightly as the only way of punishing serious criminal offenders. It was even applied to the noble as shown by the execution of Walter II who was the reigning Earl of North Umbria present-day Sunder land. The popularity of this type of punishment increased and especially during the reign of Henry V11 where 72 000 people are estimated to have been executed using various methods such as boiling, hanging and drawing and quartering while still alive for various crimes.

Some of the crimes that were punishable by death were very petty that nobles were asking for the revision of the laws that dictated punishment by death. (Gatrell, 1994) Some of these crimes punishable by death were: being in the company of gipsies for more than one month, Wearing a mask while committing a crime Vagrancy for military and sailors strong evidence of malice in children between the age of 7-14 years shoplifting stealing of mail and letters and other over 200 offences Due to the high number of executions, this became to be known as the bloody code as many people could remember these public executions.

Further reforms were on the way with the abolishing of public display of executed corpses in cages and public execution in 1868. As the popularity of this punishment spread so did pardons. Pardoning was recommended in case of official pardoning from higher authorities, past performance in the navy or military service, and pregnancy of the offender in case of women. Today the practice is still exercised and more so in the countries that happened to interact with England either as its colonies or union members.

Human rights activists have been on the front line to oppose this form of punishment basing their arguments on religious and humanitarian grounds. This crusade was easy as only seemingly kinder methods of execution were implemented. However, in 1808, Samuel Romilly introduced reforms that reduced the punishment for petty offences such as shoplifting and letter stealing from the capital to jail term sentences. Abolition of the death penalty In 1998 the death penalty was abolished for crimes committed under military jurisdiction.

The complete abolition took place in 1965 by the abolition of the death penalty act. The death penalty for murder was abolished in 1969. The house of commons had at several occasions tried to reintroduce the death penalty but the bill was defeated and did not at any time pass the house. In 1997 the Home secretary then signed a deal on human rights ground that finally illegalized any capital punishment for any crimes.


Gatrell, C. (1994), The Hanging Tree, (London, Oxford University Press)

Information on the above also available from:

www.kcadp.org/pdf%20files/News%20Articles/2006/12%2027%2006%20Prison%20term%20favored%20over%20death%20se (Retrieved on 21st April 2008)


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