capital punishment

capital punishment
putting a condemned person to death (Freq. 1)
Syn: ↑execution, ↑executing, ↑death penalty
Derivationally related forms: ↑execute (for: ↑executing), ↑executioner (for: ↑execution), ↑execute (for: ↑execution)
Hypernyms: ↑corporal punishment

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noun [noncount]
: punishment by death : the practice of killing people as punishment for serious crimes

an opponent of capital punishment

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ˌcapital ˈpunishment noun uncountable
punishment by death
capital punishment [capital punishment]
Capital punishment is the legal killing of a person for a crime they have been proved in a court of law to have committed. In the US the death penalty is used in many states. In 1972 the ↑Supreme Court decided that it was ‘cruel and unusual punishment’, which the Constitution does not allow, and it became illegal until 1976, when the Court changed its mind.
Each state decides what methods of execution (= killing) will be used. This is usually a lethal injection (= an injection of a poisonous chemical) but other methods used include the electric chair (= a chair which sends a strong electric current through the prisoner’s body), and, rarely, hanging, a firing squad (= a group of soldiers who shoot the prisoner), and the gas chamber (= a room that is filled with poisonous gas when the prisoner is inside).
In the US the death penalty is passed on people found guilty of murder. Since 1976 over 900 people have been executed. Most people who receive the death sentence appeal to higher courts, and the sentence may be changed. The legal system moves slowly, so that a long time passes between the sentence being given and the execution taking place. The result is that there are about 3 500 prisoners on death row, i.e. waiting to be executed. The state governor can give a stay of execution (= a delay so that the prisoner has time to appeal to another court) or a pardon. This can happen at any time until the execution takes place.
Another reason why many death sentences are not carried out is that there is strong opposition to capital punishment. People argue that it is immoral and that if a mistake is made it cannot be put right. They also say that the death penalty does not prevent people from committing murder. Another strong argument is that more African Americans who are found guilty of murder are sentenced to death than other racial groups and this is unfair.
In Britain the death penalty for murder was abolished in 1965, but it could still in theory be passed on anyone found guilty of treason (= crimes against the state) until 1998. Some British people think that the death penalty should be brought back for crimes such as terrorism (= the use of violence for political aims) or the murder of a police officer, but Parliament has voted several times against this. In former times about 200 crimes were capital offences, punishable by hanging. The wooden gallows or gibbet on which criminals were hanged can still be seen in some places. Many criminals were hanged in public at ↑Tyburn in London, and later at ↑Newgate prison. Traitors were hanged, drawn and quartered, i.e. hanged on the gallows, then taken down while still alive and their intestines cut out. Their heads were cut off and their bodies cut into four pieces.
Example Bank:

Public opinion was in favour of bringing back capital punishment.

Useful english dictionary. 2012.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • capital punishment — punishment by death for a crime; death penalty. [1575 85] * * * or death penalty Execution of an offender sentenced to death after conviction by a court of law of a criminal offense. Capital punishment for murder, treason, arson, and rape was… …   Universalium

  • CAPITAL PUNISHMENT — CAPITAL PUNISHMENT, the standard penalty for crime in all ancient civilizations. In the Bible Many of the crimes for which any biblical punishment is prescribed carry the death penalty. The three methods of executing criminals found in the Bible… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • capital punishment — n: death penalty Merriam Webster’s Dictionary of Law. Merriam Webster. 1996. capital punishment …   Law dictionary

  • Capital Punishment — • The infliction by due legal process of the penalty of death as a punishment for crime. Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006 …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • capital punishment — n [U] punishment which involves killing someone who has committed a crime →↑death penalty …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • capital punishment — noun uncount the punishment of being legally killed …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • capital punishment — ► NOUN ▪ the legally authorized killing of someone as punishment for a crime …   English terms dictionary

  • capital punishment — n. the penalty of death for a crime …   English World dictionary

  • Capital punishment — 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… …   Wikipedia

  • capital punishment — n. 1) to impose; re introduce capital punishment 2) to abolish capital punishment * * * re introduce capital punishment to abolish capital punishment to impose …   Combinatory dictionary

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