• In the 18th Century BC, the
Code of King Hammurabi
(murder was not one of them)
• The first death sentence
occurred in 16th Century
• In the 14th Century BC, the
Hittite Code also prescribed
the death penalty
7th Century BC…
Draconian Code of Athens
• Athenian lawgiver whose harsh legal code
punished both trivial and serious crimes
in Athens with death.
• Origin of the word DRACONIAN laws.
• Laws originally meant for ‘hoplites’.
5th Century BC…
• Roman Law of the Twelve Tablets codified the death
• Death penalty was mainly reserved for slaves and
• Common modes of capital punishment:– Beheading
• The Roman ruling class monetised the practice of
capital punishment by making it a public spectacle…
3rd Century AD…
• Roman empire replaced by
Holy Roman Empire.
• Ruled by Constantine.
• Abolishment of crucifixion.
• Laws became lenient.
• Islam was born.
• The Shariat law
• Beheading and stoning.
• Death penalty reserved mainly for treason.
• Quartering was the preferred mode of
• The Christian Church ruled whole of Europe.
• The Church invented innovative ways of
• Burning at the stake.
• Death penalty was given
mainly for heresy.
• Europe and North America were the most
powerful regions in the world.
• Modern laws .
• Hanging was main mode of
• Crushing by elephant and
• Guillotine was widely used in France as a quick and
painless way to behead a person.
• King Louis XVI was one of the famous personalities to be
killed by the guillotine.
• The last public execution by guillotine was in 1931.
The Electric Chair
• The chair was first adopted in
1889 and the first execution
took place in 1890 in New York.
• The prisoner is strapped to the
chair with metal straps in front
of an audience and a wet
sponge is placed on his head to
• In several instances, the
subjects were killed only after
being subjected to multiple
The Firing Squad
• Considered by many to be the most honorable method of
execution, which is why it is specifically never used on war criminals.
• The method is often the supreme punishment or disciplinary means
employed for crimes such as treason, desertion, or mutiny.
• If the condemned does not die, he is given a Coup de Grace or ‘Blow of
• Arguably the world’s oldest form of execution.
• It is an authorized form of execution in many middle eastern and
• It is primarily enforced
by Islamic fundamentalist
• The stones must not be large
enough to cause a quick death
but also not small enough to
inflict little pain.
• Stoning continues to face strong opposition for its barbaric nature.
The Gas Chamber
• The Gas Chamber were first used in the 1920’s as a method of execution
in the USA.
• A gas chamber is an apparatus for executing
people by placing them in a sealed chamber
where poisonous or asphyxiant gas is introduced.
• By the 1980s, reports of suffering during gas
chamber executions had led to controversy
over the use of this method.
• By the late 20th century, most states had switched to methods
considered to be more humane, such as lethal injection.
• It is the most common form of execution in the United
States of America today.
• Drugs are injected manually by the executioner and not
by machine to safeguard against mechanical failure.
• The executioner injects three drugs in sequence:
– 5g Pentothol which is intended to induce a coma
– 100mg Pancuronim bromide which causes paralysis
– 100mEq Potassium chloride which causes Cardiac Arrest
• The Lethal Injection is still not completely fail-safe.
United Nations Moratorium on The
• It calls on States that maintain the death penalty to establish a
moratorium on the use of the death penalty.
• Resolution passed in 2010 with 109 for and 41 against.
• Draft resolution was passed to abolish the death penalty; India was
among 39 countries that voted against the death penalty.
The Way Forward
• Norway’s $280 million Halden
– Televisions, refrigerators, desi
– Aims to teach convicts how to
live like normal human beings
• Norway has the 10th lowest
murder rate in the world.
• The benefits of reform
exemplified in the Tihar Jail
Some funny last words.
How about this for a headline for
tomorrow's paper? French fries.
Executed in electric chair in Oklahoma.
~~ James French, d. 1966
I did not get my Spaghetti-O's, I got
spaghetti. I want the press to know this.
Executed by injection, Oklahoma.
~~ Thomas J. Grasso, d. March 20, 1995