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'''Capital punishment''' (commonly referred to as the '''death penalty''') is the execution of a convicted criminal, carried out by a State. The punishment is applied in cases where someone has commited one or more ''capital crimes'' or ''capital offenses'' (i.e. murder, treason). The definition of a capital crime varies from country to country.
==Capital punishment in the Bible==
Capital punishment is a topic of much debate among many in the modern world. This practice however has had a long history and has often been accepted in many countries. The most common form of capital punishment is the death penalty. Moses Maimonides, wrote of capital punishment, "It is better and more satisfactory to acquit a thousand guilty persons than to put a single innocent man to death." The ancient Babylonian culture lived by the code of Hammurabi, which called for the violent punishment or death of an offender. In today’s world there are many nations such as The United States, China, Russia, Algeria, Mongolia, Egypt, India, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq and Indonesia which have capital punishment.
The Old Testament presents us with a violent world. God gave the people of Israel a law in order to prepare them for the coming messiah. Very often this law had strict consequences. "Whoever strikes a man a mortal blow must be put to death. Whoever strikes his father or mother shall be put to death” (Exodus 21:12, 15). The LXX uses the word ''pataxh'' (coming from ''patasso'' meaning to strike) in verse 12 and ''typtei'' (coming from typto meaning to strike) in verse 15. The Hebrew text makes use of the word ''nakah'' also meaning to hit or to strike. One can see that the words used are not meaning to kill but to strike. Do we believe that striking is a penalty worthy of death?
Because human life is such a precious thing, reforming must be considered as a possible alternative. What becomes the determining factor to deem that a person is beyond the possibility of reform? Through attempting to reform an individual we as a society are doing the right moral thing. It is right to attempt to transform a violent person into a peaceful one. It seems as though people in seeking the death penalty are trying in vain for justice. The crime to which the person has been jailed is already been committed. Will their death bring back someone else’s life? No it will not. Therefore it is through peaceful methods that we must try to rehabilitate violent criminals and not try to punish them.
Justice is a corrupt business in this country. Very often those who can afford justice get it. Ideally justice is for all people. People also need to ask themselves whether or not they are trying to better their society or not. People should be working for the good of the society be trying to help one another. This too can be a very difficult notion. For example, citizens in a particular community would most likely not wish to rehabilitate a serial killer, who has murdered in their neighborhood. Yet such people must realize that such a person will probably not be released into society again. However, as I have stated already all life is worth something, even the life of a serial killer is not worthless. The Paschal homily of St. John Chrysostom reminds us of the feast prepared even for those that have come at the eleventh hour.