Capital Punishment in America is older than the founding of our nation, the first case being the execution of George Kendall in 1608 at Jamestown. As long as there have been settlers from Europe, there has been capital punishment in America. Ironically, capital punishment has been abolished in all of Europe except for Belarus and Russia. More than 100 countries have abolished capital punishment. But why, in the twenty-first century America, do we still use such a barbaric and immoral form of justice?
While some states such as Illinois and Wisconsin have abolished the death penalty, they are in the minority. Thirty-one states still have the death penalty. The reason for such a divide in the states is because the Supreme Court has never declared Capital Punishment completely constitutional or unconstitutional, thus never abolishing it or establishing it for good. Although the Bill of Rights does protect people in America from cruel and unusual punishment, our nation has been unable to come to a consensus on whether or not executing a prisoner is cruel and unusual.
There have been protests against capital punishment since before the civil war. Although in 1846 Michigan became the first state to outlaw capital punishment, there is still a large portion of the U.S. that continues to use capital punishment. The reasons for this could include the possibility that the notion of the death penalty has become a fixed part of the culture of part of America, instead of a relic from our past. For now, not enough people see it as barbaric or as a stain on our justice system to abolish it from our nation.