Foreword: The Death Penalty in Decline: From Colonial America to the Present

Criminal Law Bulletin, Vol. 50, No 2, 2014, pp. 245-262

University of Baltimore School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2015-07

20 Pages Posted: 12 Sep 2014 Last revised: 20 May 2015

See all articles by John D. Bessler

John D. Bessler

University of Baltimore - School of Law; Georgetown University Law Center; University of Baltimore School of Law

Date Written: 2014

Abstract

This Article traces the history of capital punishment in America. It describes the death penalty's curtailment in colonial Pennsylvania by William Penn, and the substantial influence of the Italian philosopher Cesare Beccaria -- the first Enlightenment thinker to advocate the abolition of executions -- on the Founding Fathers' views. The Article also describes the transition away from "sanguinary" laws and punishments toward the "penitentiary system" and highlights the U.S. penal system's abandonment of non-lethal corporal punishments.

Keywords: death penalty, capital punishment, legal history, criminal law, sentences, sentencing, English law, United States, William Penn, Cesare Beccaria, Enlightenment, Founding Fathers, penal system, penitentiary system

JEL Classification: K14, K19, K33, K39, K42, K49

Suggested Citation

Bessler, John D., Foreword: The Death Penalty in Decline: From Colonial America to the Present (2014). Criminal Law Bulletin, Vol. 50, No 2, 2014, pp. 245-262; University of Baltimore School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2015-07. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2494393

John D. Bessler (Contact Author)

University of Baltimore - School of Law ( email )

1420 N. Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21218
United States
4108374690 (Phone)
4108374450 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://law.ubalt.edu/

Georgetown University Law Center ( email )

600 New Jersey Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.georgetown.edu/

University of Baltimore School of Law ( email )

1420 N. Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21218
United States
4108374690 (Phone)
4108374450 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://law.ubalt.edu/

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