Introduction to Crime and Punishment

Capital punishment, also called death penalty, execution of an offender sentenced to death after conviction by a court of law of a criminal offense.

Task: Watch this video.

See the map below. This shows the countries in the world where the death penalty is used, or has been recently used, as a punishment for criminals.

In America, after trial, if a person is sentenced to the death penalty, they are sent to a prison where they are held with other people waiting for their execution. This is often called ‘death row’. They may be allowed to appeal the court’s decision, and they may be held for many years waiting for their execution.

With each devel­op­ment in the tech­nol­o­gy of exe­cu­tion, the same promis­es have been made, that each new tech­nol­o­gy was safe, reli­able, effec­tive and humane. Those claims have not gen­er­al­ly been ful­filled.

Austin Sarat

Task: If the death penalty cannot be 100% successful, should it be abolished?

Task: Read this article from Amnesty International.

For 40 years, Amnesty International has been campaigning to abolish the death penalty around the world. When Amnesty started its work in 1977, only 16 countries had totally abolished the death penalty. Today, that number has risen to 106 – more than half the world’s countries.

Task: Create a mind map of reasons why Amnesty International may want to ban the death penalty around the world.

Task: Go on to this website and answer the following questions. This page and this page will help you identify the answers to the questions.

  • What is the aim of The Innocence Project?
  • How many people in the United States have been exonerated by DNA testing so far?
  • What does exonerate mean?
  • What is the average number of years served in prison before exoneration?
  • Which ethnicity are the majority of the people who have been helped by the Innocence Project?

According to the Prison Reform Trust:

26% of the prison population, 22,683 people, are from a minority ethnic group. With black people 53%, Asian 55%, and other ethnic groups 81% more likely to be sent to prison for an indictable offence at the Crown Court, even when factoring in higher not-guilty plea rates. Black men are 26% more likely than white men to be remanded in custody. They are also nearly 60% more likely to plead not guilty.

The Prison Reform Trust

Task: Why do you think that there are more proportionally more black men in prison in the UK? Write a PEE paragraph to explain your view. Read this article to help you.

Task: The evidence suggests that prison doesn’t work. Create a mind map of reasons why you think this might be.

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