chapter  99
6 Pages

Capital Punishment

WithClarence Watson, Gregory B. Leong, Spencer Eth

The death penalty is the most severe punishment authorized by law in response to criminal behavior. Yet, despite its historical foundations and contemporary justifications, the administration of the death penalty is not without controversy. Roots for its justification can be traced to various ancient sources including the Code of Hammurabi, Mosaic Law, and the writings of Plato.1 The historical execution methods of stoning, crucifixion, pressing, and beheading have evolved over time to modern-day methods of hanging, electrocution, and lethal injection. While contemporary use of capital punishment is generally sanctioned only for the most egregious of crimes, historically, it has been administered for a wide range of legal transgressions, including adultery, robbery, arson, and witchcraft.