Death Penalty in GB and the USA

Term Paper, 2013

16 Pages, Grade: 2-



1. Death penalty in GB
1.1 History
1.2 “The Tower of London”

2. Death penalty in the USA
2.1 History
2.2 Individuality of the different states

3. Different types of death penalty
3.1 Listing and explanation

4. Conclusion and epilogue


My name is Jacob Deger and I go to the grammar school „Bohnstedt Gymnasium“, in Luckau. Currently I am in the eleventh grade of my school career.

In the tenth class I already heard about the “Research Paper”, which we have to write in the eleventh grade. Since that moment I thought about the possibilities and options to write this extensive essay. I decided to write in the English course, because it is one of my favorite courses and I really like to speak, write and listen to the English language.

Another reason was the course ride to London, in which I took part in. Connected to this trip, I decided to write about the topic “Death penalty in GB and the USA”. This theme is very attractive to me and I could combine it with the visit of “The Tower of London”, which takes place in the later part of this work. I think this is an interesting topic and I can write a lot of informal things about this. I hope you enjoy my work and read it zestfully.

1. The death penalty in GB

1.1 History

Great Britain is an important country in the world. Everyone knows it and has already heard about it. But it has a very extensive history, which is not acquainted to everybody. In this work I can not explain the entire historical development of Great Britain, I have to restrict it to the history of death penalty, but there will be some connections to historical events.

Today, the death penalty is no longer practiced in Great Britain. But in former times it was usual that the death was set to a normal punishment for different kinds of crime. Until the 1950s it was a tradition to kill the law-breakers. The peak of the death penalty in Great Britain was the 18th century. At this time, there were over 200 offenses which were punishable by death. Often the judge decided if the offender is guilty or not. Since 1861 the offenses were limited to slayer, high treason, piracy and arson. Additional since 1868 the executions were no longer for public. A commission, which was selected by the government, wrote a report about the pro and contra of the death penalty. Because of this report, death penalty was now only punished for a heavier murder, for example when a police officer was killed in service.

In 1965 the Law Murder Act was passed, which suspended the death penalty for murder for the next five years. In 1969, that a year before the deadline, it was decided to extend the law indefinitely. After that, a death sentence was only possible for high treason or piracy, but it was never enforced. In December 1999, the United Kingdom ratified the “Second Optional Protocol” to the international covenant on civil and political rights, which finally stipulates the abolition of this law.

1.2 “The Tower of London”

“The Tower of London” is a huge, massive stone building, which is located in the eastern part of the city, next to the “Tower Bridge”. When we were in London on our course ride, I visited “The Tower of London” on the second day of our trip. It was very impressive when I stood in front of this big edifice, it took around 20 minutes to get around this building, because it is a very large ground. When I saw the green grass, the area was larger than three football pitches, I was very impressed. I took a lot of pictures, which you can see in the notes at the end of this work. Unfortunately it was strictly forbidden to take pictures inside the tower.

After this short introduction about my feelings and impressions about “The Tower of London”, I want to write something down about the history, which begins in the 11th century with William the Conqueror (1066-1087).

William the Conqueror was crowned in 1066 the King, after the conquest of England. He was known for his commands to build fortresses and strongholds in the country. In 1078, William the Conqueror ordered to build a 70x140 meter huge fortress of wood on a hill in the eastern part of the City of London. After his death, his son and successor “William II.” ordered to upgrade the wood building into a massive stone building. The Tower was now protected by Roman walls on two sides, ditches to the north and west up to 7.5m wide and 3.4m deep and an earthwork topped by a wooden palisade. Edward I (1272-1307) spend more than £21,000 between 1275 and 1285 on upgrading the Tower to the largest and strongest castle in England. The Tower’s fortifications were updated by medieval kings. A lot of separate building complexes were constructed by 1350, the Tower was modified into the stronghold we can visit today. Although many later kings and queens did spend time at the Tower, it was never a favorite royal residence. Palaces like Westminster had more opulent rooms. The Tower was not the first line of defense against enemies, although it could manage these kind of claims. The Tower’s primary function was as a fortress and stronghold, a role which did not change until the 19th century.

The Tower was used as a prison from the 12th century to 1941. The first prisoner was Ranulf Flambard in 1100. Since the 13 th century, the role of the Tower as a regular prison was to an end. After that, it served mainly to hold higher ranking prisoners, who had become securely stored. So not only thieves and law breakers sat behind bars, also reigns, statesmen and saints. Prisoners were locked in the towers of the huge building. Some were executed by an executioner on “Tower Hill”.

Here are some examples of prominent people: 1305 - the Scottish freedom fighter William Wallace was brought to the tower after his arrest and was executed later.

The hapless King, Henry VI., was imprisoned here from 1465 to 1470 and on 21.05.1471 he was murdered by his rival, Edward V in the Tower, after an unsuccessful struggle for the throne. In the fall of 1483, the royal offspring of Edward V and his younger brother, Richard, Duke of York died in the Tower, allegedly murdered at the instigation of King Richard III. 1534 - King Henry let two of his domestic political opponents imprisoned in the Bell Tower, they were executed in the summer of 1535: John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, and the lawyer and longtime crown officer, Sir Thomas Morus. The reason was high treason and non­recognition of Supremacy, after which the king was the head of the English Church. Henry VIII ordered the execution for two of his wives, Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard. There were high-ranking prisoners of war who were often bought out: the Scottish kings John Balliol, David II. and James I. were being held in the Tower, as well as the French King John II. In addition, the tower was always to hold prisoners of war until it was split by the crown. This began with hundreds of French who were caught in the “Hundred-Years-War”, and ended with the “Second World War”, when German spies and U-boat crews were funneled through the Tower. One of the last prisoners was Rudolf Hess, who was imprisoned until the 20th may 1941.

During the long years only a few prisoners managed to escape from the Tower. A list counts only 37 names of prisoners who have succeeded. In a "Book of Prisoners", which is from the days of construction led by William the Conqueror and stored in the Beauchamp Tower, all prisoners are named.


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Death Penalty in GB and the USA
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Dies ist ein Erweiterter Leistungsnachweis (Facharbeit) aus der 11. Klasse im Fach Englisch. Es war ein Leistungskurs Fach auf erhöhtem Niveau und es wurde mit einer 2- (10 Notenpunkte) gewertet.
todesstrafe, death penalty, facharbeit, hausarbeit
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Jacob Deger (Author), 2013, Death Penalty in GB and the USA, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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