The death penalty in the United States of America in the 21st century puzzles (or even outrages) many. Since my intention is not to evaluate the moral aspects of capital punishment, I will concentrate on the puzzlement more than the outrage caused by the phenomenon. When a champion of democracy executes its citizens in the 21st century, it raises questions, and the internal contradictions of the American capital punishment complicate the matter even further. In order to decipher the American phenomenon of state killing, we have to understand the history of capital punishment on American soil along with the mechanics of American political system, as well as American culture and mindset. I will argue there are particular American political institutions, values and social trends that allow for the continued practice of the death penalty in the United States.
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