Capital Punishment

Scan the text and retell it. Write the words in bold down in your copybooks, transcribe and translate them.
The ultimate penalty is death (capital punishment). It is carried out by hanging, electrocution, gassing or lethal injection, beheading or shooting. Although most countries still have a death penalty, 35 (including almost every European nation) have abolished it; 18 retain it only for exceptional crimes such wartime offences; and 27 countries no longer carry out executions even when a death sentence have been passed. In other words, almost half the countries of the world have ceased to use the death penalty. The UN has declared itself in favor of abolition. Amnesty International Campaigns for Abolition is now the focus of great debate.
Supporters of capital punishment believe that death is just a punishment for certain serious crimes. Many also believe that it deters others from committing such crimes. Opponents argue that execution is cruel and uncivilized. Capital punishment involves not only the pain of dying but also the mental anguish of waiting, sometimes for years, to know if and when the sentence will be carried out.
As the debate about capital punishment continues, the phenomenon of death row (people sentenced but still alive) increases. In 1991, no one was executed in Japan, for example, but three people were sentenced to death, bringing the total number on death row to fifty.
The debate also involves the question of what punishment is for. Is the main aim to deter? This was actually the case in the 18th century in England when the penalty for theft was supposed to frighten people from stealing and compensate for inabilities to detect and catch thieves. Is it revenge or retribution? Is it to keep criminals out of society? Or is it to reform and rehabilitate them?
1. Is capital punishment humane?
2. Does it influence the crime rate?
3. What are the reasons for capital punishment?
4. How many countries have abolished capital punishment?
5. Capital punishment diminishes the level of violent crimes, doesn’t it?
6. Why does the debate about capital punishment continue?
7. What questions does the debate about capital punishment involve?
8. What are the ways of carrying out executions in modern societies?
9. Do you think that some methods of inflicting the death penalty are cruel and barbaric? What are they?
10. Do you agree with the death penalty for certain crimes? Why or why not?
11. For what crimes do you think the death penalty should be imposed?
12. Capital punishment is often replaced with long-term or life imprisonment. Do you think it is right?
13. What is the situation like in Russia?
Vocabulary and Speech Exercises
I. Find the English equivalents for the following word-combinations; memorize them.
1. смертная казнь через повешение
2. казнь на электрическом стуле
3. смертная казнь через расстрел
4. смертная казнь через отравление газом
5. отменить смертную казнь
6. привести в исполнение смертную казнь
7. удерживать от совершения преступления
8. душевное расстройство
9. камера смертников
10. быть приговоренным к смерти
11. месть
12. изолировать преступников от общества
Find the synonymic expressions in the text:
the point of discussion
a prison block or section for people sentenced to death
to the advantage of
unusual, extraordinary
to remain (or cause someone or something to remain) outside
to kill as a punishment
have stopped using the death penalty
was expected or planned
psychic disorder
the state of being unable to do something
Match the legal terms and their definitions.
1. quick justice a) An objective of sentencing, the aim of which is to restrain a potential offender from committing new and/or different crimes, usually by holding him in a maximum-security prison.
2. death row b) Extremely fast procedures from arrest through conviction to sentencing of a defendant willing to waive all proceedings and plead guilty.
3. incapacitation cells c) holding inmates condemned to die by execution.
4. waiver d) The constitutional principle asserting that the law must be applied equally and impartially to all, regardless of race, economic class, sex, and so on.
5. plea bargaining e) The voluntary decision of a defendant to give up some rights to which he/she is entitled. For instance, a preliminary hearing may be waived and a guilty plea constitutes a waiver of the right to trial.
6. equal protection f) The practice involving negotiation between prosecutor and defendant and/or his attorney, which often results in the defendant’s entering of a guilty plea in exchange for the state's reduction of charges, or for the prosecutor's promise recommend a more lenient sentence than the offender would ordinarily receive.
IV. Match the verbs with the nouns fit the best. Make up sentences with the phrases you have got.
Carry out
Put to
Do (smth) in
a sentence
a crime
a mistake
V. Choose one of the words that best completes the sentence.
1. How would you punish/punishment somebody for stealing?
2. They support the idea of capital punishment abolish/abolition in their country.
3. Most ordinary people believe that the death penalty deters from commit/committing violent/violence crimes.
4. The criminal was sentenced to one year’s imprisonment/imprison.
5. Some countries don’t carry out execution/execute.
6. Punishment can also be seen as a deter/deterrent because it warns other people of what will happen if they are tempted to break/breaker the law.
7. For terrorists capital/corporal punishment should be used.
8. Murders/Murderers should automatically receive the death/fixed penalty.
9. When a person commits a crime such as murder, the state then has the right under/by the law to execute him/her.
10. The death penalty discourage/encourage crime.
VI. Fill in the gaps in the following sentences:
1. Capital punishment is carried out by hanging, …, ….
2. Although most countries still have a death penalty, 35 (including almost every European nation) … it.
3. Supporters of capital punishment believe that death penalty … … from committing serious crimes.
4. … argue that execution is cruel and uncivilized.
5. The question is whether capital punishment is for revenge or … or it is to reform and … criminals?
The body of a 45-year old man was found late last night outside a local bar. Read the dialogue and answer the questions.
Speaker 1: So this is our victim?
Speaker 2: Yeah. Male, forties. No question it’s a homicide.
Speaker 1: Do we have a murder weapon?
Speaker 2: No, not yet?
Speaker 1: You know, from the looks of him, there might have been two murder weapons. Maybe even two attackers.
Speaker 2: Why do you say that?
Speaker 1: Well, it looks like there are several stab wounds, but look at that wound on his head.
Speaker 2: Oh, yeah. You’re right. It looks like he was bludgeoned with something.
Speaker 1: Do we have an ID on this guy yet?
Speaker 2: We do. He was a tourist.
Speaker 1: So what’s our motive? Was it just a bar fight?
Speaker 2: I asked a server if she’d seen anything. She said she saw him arguing with another guy in the bar earlier this evening.
Speaker 1: It doesn’t look like a robbery. They didn’t take his wedding ring or his wallet.
Speaker 2: No, I think it was just an argument gone very wrong.
1. Who is speaking? Where?
2. Is homicide a frequent crime in Russia?
3. What evidence is necessary in a murder case?
4. Are there any suspects in this case?
5. Is it obviously how the man died?
6. What punishment you think would be appropriate for this criminal case?
Read the text
Did you know?
The argument against the death penalty is largely humanitarian. But there are also statistical reasons for opposing it: the deterrence figures do not add up. In Britain, 1903 was the record year for executions and yet in 1904 the number of homicides actually rose. 1946 also saw an unusually high number of executions followed in 1947 by another rise in the murder rate. If the deterrence theory was correct, the rate should have fallen. In Britain, capital punishment lasted until 1965, when it was abolished by Parliament. There have been 14 attempts since then to reintroduce it – all unsuccessful.
In the USA, where over 85% of the population over the age of 21 approve of the death penalty, juveniles and “mentally deficient” people can be executed. In the many states which still have the death penalty, some use the electric chair, which can take up to20 minutes to kill, while others use gas or lethal injections.
Next is the idea of public security. If the death penalty were reinstated, it would mean that a convicted murderer would not be set free after serving 20 years or less of a life sentence and be able to go on to murder again. The general public would, therefore, be safer. The fourth main pro-hanging argument is the most cold-blooded. It is that it makes economic sense to hang convicted murderers rather than have them in prison wasting taxpayers’ money.
The second main argument against reintroducing capital punishment is that innocent people are sometimes wrongly convicted and, while people can be released from prison, they cannot be brought back from the dead if they have been hanged.
The pro-hanging lobby uses four main arguments to support its call for the reintroduction of capital punishment. First there is the deterrence theory, which states that potential murderers would think twice before committing the act if they knew that they might also die if they were caught. The armed bank robber might, likewise, decide to leave his sawn-off shotgun at home and go back to being an ordinary robber.
The other two arguments are more suspect. The idea of retribution demands that criminals should get what they deserve: if a murderer intentionally sets out to commit a crime, he should accept the consequences. Retribution, which is just another word for revenge, is supported by the religious doctrine of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.
The other reasons to oppose the death penalty, which are largely a matter of individual conscience and belief, are first that murder is murder and this includes state executions. The state has no more right to take a life than the individual. Indeed, the state should set an example to the individual by not taking lives. It is believed to be a measure of its civilization that a state acts more humanely than its citizens. The second is that Christianity preaches forgiveness, not revenge.
Put the paragraphs in the correct order. Pay attention to the linkers.
Give a Russian equivalents to words and word-expressions in bold.
Make two lists of reasons from the text “for” and “against” death penalty.
Discuss the problem in 2 groups: “Capital punishment is the only way to deter criminals, it must not be abolished”. Make a speech either supporting or opposing the death penalty. Use the ideas from the ex.III and the following tips:
Some tips “for”:
It protects unarmed policemen, young children, civilized society;
“Life sentence”: ten years “good conduct” and then freedom to live on the proceeds of crime;
Suspension of capital punishment: senseless;
Violent criminals: a hero figure; glorified on screen and by press;
They expect and receive VIP treatment;
Certain criminals – sex murders, terrorists and so on deserve to die;
An eye for an eye. A tooth for a tooth.
Some tips “against”:
Capital punishment creates, it doesn’t solve problems;
It’s absurd: capital punishment never protected anyone;
Hanging, electric chairs are barbaric practices, unworthy of human beings;
If the state kills someone, then it admits there are circumstances where killing is justified. Having admitted that, it is then in no position to condemn murder.
Scan the text
victim; felons; offender; beheading; adultery; pillory; punishment; condemned; ancient; medieval; guilty; legal; deterrent
For the most history __________ has been both painful and public in order to act as _________ to others. Physical punishments and public humiliations were social events and carried out in most accessible parts of towns, often on market days when the greater part of the population were present. Justice had to be seen to be done.
One of the most bizarre methods of execution was inflicted in ancient Rome on people found ______ of murdering their fathers. Their punishment was to be put in a sack with a rooster, a viper, and a dog, and then drowned along with the three animals. In ________ Greece the custom of allowing a _______ man to end his own life by poison was extended only to full citizens. The philosopher Socrates died in this way. Condemned slaves were beaten to death instead. Stoning was the ancient method of punishment for _________ among other crimes.
In Turkey if a butcher was found guilty of selling bad meat, he was tied to a post with a piece of stinking meat fixed under his nose, or a baker having sold short weight bread could be nailed to his door by his ear.
One of the most common punishments for petty offences was the _________, which stood in the main square of towns. The _________ was locked by hands and head into the device and made to stand sometimes for days, while crowds jeered and pelted the offender with rotten vegetables or worse.
In _______ Europe some methods of execution were deliberately drawn out to inflict maximum suffering. ______ were tied to a heavy wheel and rolled around the streets until they were crushed to death. Others were strangled, very slowly. One of the most terrible punishments was hanging and quartering. The ________ was hanged, beheaded and the body cut into four pieces. It remained a ________ method of punishment in Britain until 1814. __________ was normally reserved for those of high rank. In England ‘block and axe’ was the common method but this was different from France and Germany where the victim kneeled and the head was taken off with a swing of the sword.
Complete the following text with the words and expressions from the box.
Make a list of execution methods inflicted on criminals throughout the history.
III. Answer the following questions:
Why did ancient punishment have to be painful?
What was the purpose of making punishments public?
What was the symbolic meaning of the punishment inflicted on the parent’s murderers?
What punishments were most common in the East?
How did punishments reflect social status?
Comment upon the statement “Justice had to be seen to be done”.
Are some of these methods still in use in the modern world?
IV. Prepare a short report on other methods of execution ever existed in history.
What do you know about the following notorious criminals? Make a presentation about one of them. How were they punished?
Marcus Junius Brutus
Gaius Longinus Cassius
Guy Fawkes
Alessandro Cagliostro
Jack the Ripper
Mata Hari
Bonnie and Clyde
Alphonse Capone
Lee Harvey Oswald
Write a “for and against essay”: Capital punishment: pros and cons, using the following plan.
1. Introduction – general remarks presenting topic (3-4 sentences).
2. Main body (6-8 sentences):
– arguments against capital punishment providing by strong arguments;
– arguments for capital punishment providing by strong arguments.
Conclusion – expressing your own opinion (2-3 sentences).
Reviewing What We Learned
What is capital punishment?
What ancient methods of execution do you know?
Why was capital punishment imposed so frequently in ancient societies?
What are modern ways to put a criminal to death?
What are the reasons for and against death penalty?
How do different countries treat the problem of death penalty today?
Prove your point of view on this issue.
Legal Skills in Action
In 1952 two youths in Mitcham, London, decided to rob a diary. They were Christopher Craig, aged 16, and Derek William Bently, 19. During the robbery they were disturbed by Sydney Miles, a policeman. Craig produced a gun and killed the policeman.
At that time Britain still had the death penalty for certain types of murder, including murder during a robbery. Because Craig was under 18, he was sentences to life imprisonment. Bently who had never touched the gun, was over 18. He was hanged in 1953.
The case was quoted by opponents of capital punishment, which was abolished in 1965.
If you had been the judge, would you have given a different sentence?

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