However, public opinion continues to largely support the retention of the Death Penalty in America.
The Death Penalty, or Capital Punishment, continues to remain one of the most controversial subjects in the criminal justice system throughout the world. Proponents and opponents of the Death Penalty tend to be passionately vehement in supporting the validity of their respective positions, and the debate continues to rouse strong views in contemporary society. State legalized executions have been institutionalized as a part of the legal system in several nations. Despite repeated calls by the United Nations Human Rights Commission for the global abolition of the Death Penalty, about seventy-eight countries retain Capital Punishment as a penalty in their criminal justice systems. As of 2008, China is the leading imposer of the Death Penalty in the world (1,718), followed by Saudi Arabia (102), Iran (346), the United States (37), Pakistan (36) and Iraq (34). These countries account for 95% of Capital Punishment in the world (DPIC, 2010).
The history of the Death Penalty can be traced to the earliest genesis of a legal system in human history. It dates back to the Babylonic Code of Hammurabi in the eighteenth century B.C. and was incorporated in the Seventh Century B.C.s Draconian Code of Athens, the Fourteenth Century B.C.s Hittite Code and in the Fifth Century B.C.s Roman Law of the Twelve Tablets. The frequency of Capital Punishment, and the crimes which were considered to merit the Death Penalty, varied over the following centuries, and the practice was introduced in America by the European settlers, largely influenced by Britain. The first recorded execution in colonial times was that of Captain George Kendall, in the Jamestown colony of Virginia in 1608, on charges of espionage. Cesare Beccarias 1767 essay, On