The Topic:
Capital Punishment

Special Note: This site is intended to be educational. However, some of the images and information included in this project may be disturbing, especially for younger learners. While we encourage all to learn, we hope that parents and teachers will be there to help explain events and guide young learners through the complexities behind what they may read and see. Adults should preview sites before providing access to younger children.
 
Easier - Capital punishment is the penalty or sentence of death for committing a crime.
 
Harder - Since the beginning of the nineteenth century, most executions in the United States have resulted from murder convictions. However, the sentence of death has been imposed for such serious crimes as armed robbery, kidnapping, rape, and treason.
 
People disagree about whether capital punishment is moral or if it is effective in discouraging crime. Many oppose the death penalty because they consider it cruel. Critics also believe that there is a risk of executing mistakenly convicted people. Supporters of the death penalty believe that in some instances, people who take another human life deserve to forfeit their own lives. Many supporters also argue that the threat of death discourages crime.
 
Death Penalty Information Center
http://www.essential.org/dpic/
This site contains information, history, statistics and opinion about the death penalty in the United States.
 
Death Penalty Update: Here & Abroad
http://www.infoplease.com/spot/deathworld1.html
Here is a capsule profile of capital punishment as exercised in the U.S. and around the world.
 
Pro-Death Penalty.Com
http://www.prodeathpenalty.com/
This site is a resource for pro-death penalty information and resources.
Another Related Website:
2) Pro Death Penalty by Wesley Lowe
http://www.geocities.com/Area51/Capsule/2698/cp.html
 
Human Rights: Death Penalty
http://www.derechos.org/dp/
This links-site connects to several websites both pro and con related to capital punishment.
Similar Links-Sites:
2) Death Penalty http://dpa.state.ky.us/~rwheeler/deathpen.htm
 
After visiting several of the websites, complete one or more of these activities. We recommend that you first gain an understanding of the history, chronology, and procedures involved with capital punishment before you get into the statistics and form your final opinion.
 
Create a Capital Punishment Poster. Make a poster that expresses your views regarding the issue of capital punishment.
 
Write a Letter to a Politician. Write a letter to your governor and/or your representatives expressing your opinion about capital punishment. Make sure that the letter presents a logical, clear argument that is backed up by facts. Make it persuasive. Express your opinion.
 
Complete a Capital Punishment WebQuest. Adapt or follow the procedures found at one the the following webQuest sites:
1) Capital Punishment: Is It Ever Justified? (Grade 11-12) http://a41064.west.asu.edu/students/ahudson/WebQuest.html
2) Does the Punishment Fit the Crime? based on Richard Wright's 'Rite of Passage'
(Grade 9-12) http://projects.edtech.sandi.net/mission/roppage/rop.html
 
Research and Debate. First examine both sides of the issue. Then pick a view and debate the issue. Next, switch sides.
 
Websites By Kids For Kids
Capital Punishment: Life or Death?
http://www.cwrl.utexas.edu/~tonya/spring/cap/group1.htm
Capital punishment is a difficult issue and there are as many different opinions as there are people. At this project site, both sides have been presented.
 
Death Penalty - When Life Generates Death (1998 ThinkQuest Project)
http://library.thinkquest.org/23685/
Explore the history of the death penalty from ancient times to the present.
 
More Websites on Capital Punishment
Capital Punishment at the California Department of Corrections
http://www.cdc.state.ca.us/issues/capital/capital.htm
Here you will find a history, statistics, and pictures from the state of California.
Related Websites:
2) Focus on the Death Penalty (University of Alaska) http://www.uaa.alaska.edu/just/death/
3) Statistics (Texas Department of Criminal Justice) http://www.tdcj.state.tx.us/statistics/stats-home.htm
 
Capital Punishment: The Death Penalty
http://www.religioustolerance.org/execute.htm
This site has information from different religious perspectives.
 
The Case Against the Death Penalty by Hugo Adam Bedau, American Civil Liberties Union
http://www.aclu.org/library/case_against_death.html
This website explains eight objections to the death penalty.
 
Death of Innocents from the Hartford Advocate
http://www.hartfordadvocate.com/articles/innocents.html
This article is about death row inmates who were later exonerated.
 
The Death Penalty at Human Rights Watch
http://www.hrw.org/about/initiatives/deathpen.htm
The United States continues to rely on the death penalty despite the international trend away from its use.
 
Death Penalty and Execution News
http://www.smu.edu/~deathpen/updates.html
This site posts recent news articles related to capital punishment.
 
Death Penalty: An Overview at the Legal Information Institute, Cornell Law School, Ithaca, NY)
http://wwwsecure.law.cornell.edu/topics/death_penalty.html
Congress and state legislatures may prescribe capital punishment for certain heinous crimes. It has been held that the death penalty is not a per se violation of the eight amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
 
Death Penalty at Amnesty International
http://www.amnesty.org/ailib/intcam/dp/index.html
Information about the death penalty from an organization that views it as the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.
 
Death Penalty in the United States of America
http://www.amnestyusa.org/rightsforall/dp/index.html
This site houses a large archive of reports on the topic.
 
Death Row Roll Call at The Nation
http://www.thenation.com/deathrow/
Here you find a a monthly list of death row inmates scheduled for execution Information for the list comes from the Death Penalty Information Center.
Related Websites:
2) Death Penalty News & Updates http://www.smu.edu/~deathpen/
3) Death Penalty USA Pages http://www.agitator.com/dp/
 
Ethics Update: Punishment and the Death Penalty
http://ethics.acusd.edu/death_penalty.html
This site links to court decisions, legislation, statistical information, and information about capital punishment.
 
The Execution at PBS Frontline
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/execution/
This site examines capital punishment through the life and crimes of self-confessed, double murderer Clifford Boggess, who was executed in Texas in June 1998 after spending almost ten years on death row.
  
Reference Sites
Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics
http://www.albany.edu/sourcebook/
This online reference brings together data about all aspects of criminal justice in the United States presented in over 600 tables from more than 100 sources.
Other Crime and Justice Statistics:
2) Links-Site at the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data (NACJD) http://www.icpsr.umich.edu/NACJD/links.html
3) Bureau of Justice Statistics (U.S. Department of Justice)
http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/
 
Supreme Court Cases on Rights of the Accused: Punishment
(Oyez Project, Northwestern University)
http://oyez.nwu.edu/cases/cases.cgi?mode=subjects&command=do_search&andor=
any&keywords=Rights+of+the+Accused%3A+Punishment
Here are abstracts, written opinions, and RealAudio of the original oral arguments for cases on the death penalty and other criminal punishment issues.
 
Websites for Teachers
Capital Punishment (Grade 8)
http://middleschool.net/SSt99/ssMBj/ssMBj99.html
Using a variety of resources, students will investigate the capital punishment issue.
 
Capital Punishment Debate by J. Weis (Grade 8)
http://eaves.math.utk.edu/~williams/Goals/weis4.html
Students are to read "The Bet," use the Internet finding sources both pro and con, and then debate the issue of capital punishment.
 
Compassion on Death Row? (Grade 6-12)
http://nytimes.com/learning/teachers/lessons/990510monday.html
This lesson encourages students to analyze and debate, through writing and discussion, the politics and ethics behind the ability of governors to grant clemency to inmates sentenced to the death penalty.
 
death penalty
execution
death row
capital punishment
murderer
heinous crime
convict
'Dead Man Walking'
pro
con
moratorium
lethal injection
electrocution
hanging
jail
lethal gas
inmate
penal code
condemned status
DNA test
stay
justice
conviction
electric chair
eighth amendment
firing squad
gallows
trial
gas chamber
guillotine
death row
justice
victim
 clemency
deterence
innocence
race
juvenile
humane treatment
appeals process
incompetent defense
life sentence
 
  
Created by Annette Lamb and Larry Johnson, 1/99
Updated, 7/00