Foreword: The Death Penalty in Decline: From Colonial America to the Present
Criminal Law Bulletin, Vol. 50, No 2, 2014, pp. 245-262
20 Pages Posted: 12 Sep 2014 Last revised: 20 May 2015
Date Written: 2014
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: Suggested Citation