Encyclopedia of Criminology and Criminal Justice

2014 Edition
| Editors: Gerben Bruinsma, David Weisburd

History of the Death Penalty

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-5690-2_281



From the beginning of time, the death penalty has been enacted. However, throughout history, it has decreased more and more until today the world has the least number of people put to death for crime. This entry describes the historical development of capital punishment through the centuries and provides an account of the forms and methods used to execute convicted offenders. The entry further discusses the behaviors and crimes that led to the ultimate punishment, while presenting the controversies and legal aspects of capital punishment. Violent crimes and murder rates are also discussed in lieu of the ultimate punishment, and its potential effect on current crime rates.

Lethal injection, electric chair, firing squad, hanging, poison, drowning, drawn and quartering, immersed in boiling oil¸ stoning, crucifixion, sawing asunder, pressing, tearing apart by wild beasts, beheading – all of these and whatever more the mind could conceive...

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Recommended Reading and References

  1. “41 Federal Capital Offenses,” ProCon.org, Web, deathpenalty.procon.org/view.resource.php?re sourceD=004927Google Scholar
  2. Beccaria C (1963) On crimes and punishment, (trans. Henry Paolucci). Bobbs-Merrill, IndianapolisGoogle Scholar
  3. Bedau HA (1982) The death penalty in America. Oxford University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  4. “Death Penalty Trends,” Amnesty International, Web, March 26, 2012 www.amnestyusa.org/our-workssues/death-penalty/us-death-penalty-facts/death-penalty-trends
  5. “Death Sentences and Executions 2011,” Amnesty International, Web, March 26, 2012 www.amnestyusa.org/research/reports/death-sentences-and-executions-2011
  6. “Facts about the Death Penalty - Updated: September 20, 2012),” Death Penalty Information Center, Web, www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/documents/FactSheet.pdf
  7. FBI Uniform Crime Report 1992; The Sentencing Project.Google Scholar
  8. “Homicide Trends in the U.S., 1980–2008” November 2011, NCJ 236018, Web, bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbdetail&iid=2221
  9. Kronenwetter M (1993) Capital punishment: a reference handbook. ABC-CLIO, Santa BarbaraGoogle Scholar
  10. Laurence J (1960) A history of capital punishment. The Citadel Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  11. Mackey PE (1976) Voices against death: American opposition to capital punishment, 1787–1975. Burt Franklin, New YorkGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.OklahomaUSA