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Moral and Religious Influences - Capital Punishment

abolished percent occurred executions

Undoubtedly the most controversial moral issue affecting criminal justice is the centuries old debate over the death penalty. It has been estimated that between 19,000 and 23,000 people were executed in the colonies and the United States since the first known execution in 1608 in the Virginia colony. Over 7,000 of those executions occurred after 1900. In more recent times, almost 600 occurred after 1977 in thirty-one states. Over 80 percent of the executions after 1977 took place in southern prisons with 35 percent in Texas alone. Another 3,700 inmates were awaiting execution at the beginning of the twenty-first century.

Crimes punishable by death are called capital crimes, which is derived from the Latin word capitalis meaning "of the head." By the late twentieth century, however, most nations in the world had abolished capital punishment. England abolished capital punishment in 1965, and it is not allowed in many of the nations that joined the European Union. Other countries that abolished capital punishment include Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and a number of countries in Central and South America.


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