Capital Punishment

The execution of a criminal under death sentence imposed by competent public authority. Unlike the act of a private person exacting revenge for a wrong done to himself or to his family, this penalty manifests the community's will to vindicate its laws and system of justice, to atone for wrongful conduct, and to deter criminal acts by others in the future. Among some primitive peoples, a popular assembly might order death not only to retaliate for murder or treason, but also to appease spirits offended by sorcery, incest, or sacrilege.

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