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History and the Pros and Cons of Capital Punishment
After the 1972 decision new laws limited the death penalty to murder and to other specified crimes that result in a person's death. In many states, laws specify under which a judge or jury may impose the death penalty.
In 1976, the court defended death sentences for three men convicted of murder under new laws in Florida, Georgia, and Texas. It ruled that capital punishment for murder was "not unconstitutionally severe." But the court struck down laws that made the death penalty required for certain crimes. In
addition to state laws on capital punishment, the death penalty may be vital under federal laws or military laws.
Capital punishment was widely used during the Middle Ages, especially for crimes against the state and church. In the 1700's, England had more than 200 capital offenses. Most were abolished in the 1800's. The United Kingdom abolished capital punishment in 1969. Canada did so in 1976. The United States is the only Western industrialized nation where executions still take place.
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