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In some countries, there has been much debate surrounding the issue of capital punishment. “Capital punishment” is another term for the death penalty-the idea that some crimes should be punished with death for the criminal who commits them.Capital punishment has existed at some time within virtually all countries. In English-speaking countries, the use of capital punishment is much more limited nowadays than it was in the past.
For example, in 18th century England, there were over 200 “capital crimes,” including petty theft and forgery! Few criminals were actually put to death for these minor offences, but the laws were changed so that only very serious crimes, such as murder or treason, would be punished by death.
During the 19th and 20th centuries, many people began to believe that capital punishment was always wrong. They argued that the death penalty was a cruel form of punishment, and that no state had the right to take the life of an individual. Many countries began to abolish the death penalty, and today most countries no longer use capital punishment.
Several countries, such as China and Saudi Arabia, continue to use capital punishment.
Among English-speaking countries, the United States is the most prominent example of a country that still has the death penalty. However, some of the states within the USA have eliminated capital punishment.
There has been much debate within the United States (and other countries) about capital punishment.
Some people are in favor of the death penalty, for several reasons. Some argue that a person who commits an evil crime such as murder deserves capital punishment. Others argue that the death penalty may deter criminals from committing crimes. Others argue that capital punishment is the only way to be certain that a criminal will not commit crimes again.
Many other people are against the death penalty, for several reasons. Some argue that it is simply cruel and immoral to kill another person, even as punishment for committing terrible crimes. They argue that the death penalty does not really deter crime, and that the death penalty is usually applied to people who are poor or who belong to minority groups. They also point out that innocent people are sometimes mistakenly convicted and executed, and that the death penalty does not allow those mistakes to be corrected.
The issue of the death penalty will probably continue to attract debate for many years to come. But it seems that capital punishment is gradually being eliminated throughout the world.
discussion of a particular subject that often continues for a long time and in which people express different opinions
the gun-control debate in the US
The new drug has become the subject of heated debate within the medical profession.
There has been widespread public debate over the introduction of genetically modified food.
There was much lively debate about whether women should spend more time in the home.
A fierce debate raged over which artist’s work should be chosen for the prize.
the ongoing debate between environmentalists and the road-building lobby over the future of our countryside
Nuclear power has always been a topic that has sparked off considerable debate .
punishment which involves killing someone who has committed a crime
CULTURAL NOTE Several US states use capital punishment and carry it out by a variety of methods including the electric chair, poisonous gas, and INJECTION of poison.
someone who is involved in illegal activities or has been proved guilty of a crime
Police have described the man as a violent and dangerous criminal.
a convicted criminal (=someone who has been found guilty of a crime)
The new law will ensure that habitual criminals (=criminals who commit crimes repeatedly) receive tougher punishments than first-time offenders.
Teenagers should not be sent to prison to mix with hardened criminals (=criminals who have committed a lot of crimes and will never stop committing crimes) .
Virtually all the children come to school by bus.
He was virtually unknown before running for office.
stealing small things
an arrest for petty theft (=stealing small things)
the crime of copying official documents, money etc
offence British English offense American English
an act of wrongdoing, esp. of breaking the law; crime:
Driving while drunk is a serious offense/is not a minor offense.
They won’t imprison him for a first offense. (=his first crime)
The defendant asked for ten similar offenses to be taken into consideration. (=asked for his/her sentence to be made less severe because he/she had admitted to the ten other crimes)
His evil crimes were an offense against the whole of humanity
The possession of stolen property is a criminal offence. Punishment for a first offence is a fine.
His solicitor said he committed the offence because he was heavily in debt.
The bill makes it an offence to carry a knife.
sexual offences against children
the crime of being disloyal to your country or its government, especially by helping its enemies or trying to remove the government using violence
Richter is accused of committing treason against the state.
The defendant was convicted of high treason (=treason of the worst kind) and sentenced to death.
a person, considered separately from the rest of the group or society that they live in
the rights of the individual
Each individual receives two genes, one inherited from each parent.
Most churches were built with donations from private individuals (=ordinary people, rather than the government or companies) .
stop, to officially end a law, system etc, especially one that has existed for a long time
Slavery was abolished in the US in the 19th century.
they abolished slavery.
Slavery was abolished in the US in the 19th century.
a government plan to abolish school lunch programs
a prominent Russian scientist play a prominent part/role (in something)
Mandela played a prominent role in the early years of the ANC.
The World Cup will have a prominent place on the agenda.
favour British English favor American English
[uncountable]support, approval, or agreement for something such as a plan, idea, or system
in favour of something
Senior ministers spoke in favour of the proposal.
I talked to Susie about it, and she’s all in favor (=completely approves) of going.
to have earned by one’s actions or character; be worthy of: You’ve been working all morning — you deserve a rest.
[+to-v] She deserved to win/to be punished.
What have I done to deserve this?
deserve to do something
We didn’t deserve to win.
richly/fully/thoroughly etc deserve something
the success he so richly deservesI’m sorry for the kids. They deserve better (=deserve to be treated in a better way) .
deserve a rest/break/holiday etc
I think we deserve a rest after all that hard work.
Ledley deserves a place in the team.
Paula deserves a special mention for all the help she has given us.
I would never hit anyone, even if they deserved it.
What has he done to deserve this punishment ?
deserve all/everything you get (=deserve any bad things that happen to you)
He deserves all he gets for being so dishonest.
People who are sent to prison for drunk-driving get what they deserve .
to stop someone from doing something, by making them realize it will be difficult or have bad results
ￚsee also deterrent
The company’s financial difficulties have deterred potential investors.
deter somebody from (doing) something
The security camera was installed to deter people from stealing.
punishment did not deter him from repeating his crime
a good dog can deter burglars
to prevent from acting, esp. by the threat of something unpleasant:
We need severe punishments to deter people from dealing in drugs.
a group of people of a different race, religion etc from most other people in that country
People from ethnic minorities often face prejudice and discrimination.
the very large Russian minorities in Ukraine and Moldova
children from minority groups
the teaching of minority languages in schools
minority leader/businessman/student etc American English
a school with a high proportion of minority students
to prove or officially announce that someone is guilty of a crime after a trial in a law court
convict somebody of something
She was convicted of shoplifting.
convict somebody on something
He was convicted on fraud charges .
a convicted murderer
They were convicted of murder.
a convicted rapist.
to convict someone of a crime
there was not enough evidence to convict him
for years/weeks/days etc to come
used to emphasize that something will continue for a long time into the future
This is a moment that will be remembered and celebrated for years to come.