Death Penalty Literature Review

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Chapter 2: Literature Review
2.1 History of Death Penalty
2.1.1 Early Death Penalty Laws
Death Penalty laws can be traced back as early as the eighteenth century B.C. The code of King Hammaurabi of Babylon had provisions for death penalty (Schabas, 2002). It included statute laws of death penalty to be imposed for 25 different crimes. (Michigan State University and Death Penalty information centre, 2006) Death executions in those early times were cruel and inhuman. The death penalty also existed in different ancient laws such as:
• The fourteenth century B.C Hittite code.
• The fifth century B.C’s Roman Law of the twelve tablets
• The seventh century B.C’s Draconian code of Athens in which all crimes were punished by the imposition of death
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In those early times, there were numerous methods of death execution which included crucifixion, drowning, battering till death, offenders were burnt alive and impalement. Examples of famous people executed are Jesus Christ and Socrates. Offences such as: Heresy, libels, cutting or grazing of crops, burning of a house, intentional act of swearing, false oath, wilful murder and many more were punishable by death. Parricide was viewed as a serious crime and for this offense; the offender was submersed into a sack. The sack also contained a dog, a rooster, a viper and an ape.
2.1.2 Death Penalty in Great Britain.
The history of capital punishment in the United Kingdom is centuries old. It started with death penalty for all possible crimes to only some crimes leading to execution and to finally being abolished. In the eras of kings, death executions were inhuman, degrading and ways to show the supremacy of the king.
• 450 B.C: Executions were done by throwing the convict into a quagmire.
• 10th century: Most common way of execution was hanging from the gallows and public executions were very common.
• 11th century: the Norman King of England, William the Conqueror was against capital punishment and thus, prevented people to be executed for any crimes except when there was war
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