"Death penalty" and "Death sentence" redirect here. For other uses, see Death penalty (disambiguation)) and Death sentence (disambiguation)).
"Execution" and "Execute" redirect here. For other uses, see Execution (disambiguation)) and Execute (disambiguation)).
For other uses, see Capital punishment (disambiguation)).
Capital punishment has been practiced in virtually every society, and thus can be considered to be a cultural universal or close to it, excluding those with state religious proscriptions against it. It is a matter of active controversy in various countries and states, and positions can vary within a single political ideology or cultural region. In the EU member states, if the Treaty of Lisbon is ratified and implemented, Article 2 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union will prohibit capital punishment.
Anarchist guillotined in France in 1894
The use of formal execution extends to the beginning of recorded history. Most historical records and various primitive tribal practices indicate that the death penalty was a part of their justice system. Communal punishment for wrongdoing generally included compensation by the wrongdoer, corporal punishment, shunning, banishment and execution. Within a small community, crimes were rare and murder was almost always a crime of passion. Moreover, most would hesitate to inflict death on a member of the community. For this reason, execution and even banishment were extremely rare. Usually, compensation and shunning were enough as a form of justice. The response to crime committed by neighbouring tribes or communities included formal apology, compensation or blood feuds.
A blood feud or vendetta occurs when arbitration between families or tribes fails or an arbitration system is non-existent. This form of justice was common before the emergence of an arbitration system based on state or organised religion....