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Capital Punishment: Morality, Politics, and Policy - The Death Penalty In America, 1793–1982, Current Status, Capital Crimes, Public Opinion, Administration

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Throughout the world, from earliest recorded times, the death penalty has played a prominent role in social control. Abolition of the death penalty became a matter for political discussion in Europe and America beginning in 1764, when the young Italian jurist Cesare Beccaria (1738–1794) published his little book, On Crimes and Punishments. Beccaria's criticism of torture and the death penalty typified the Enlightenment zeal for rational reform of prevailing social practices. Beccaria's alternative to the death penalty was life in prison at hard labor. In short order Catherine of Russia decreed an end to the death penalty, and so did Emporer Leopold in the province of Tuscany in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Maximilien Robespierre, a powerful leader in the French Revolution, attacked the death penalty as murder. In England, by the end of the eighteenth century, Parliament was being petitioned to reduce the number of capital felonies, which numbered in the hundreds; complete abolition was never a serious prospect.


Truman Capote - Persons To Capote, Breakfast At Tiffany's, In Cold Blood, True Crime, Fall From Grace [next] [back] Capital Punishment: Legal Aspects - State Legislative Innovations, Early Constitutional Intervention, Constitutional Abolition In Furman V. Georgia, Post-furman Constitutional Regulation

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