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Capital punishment is the practice of executing someone as

punishment for a specific crime after a proper legal trial.

It can only be used by a state, so when non-state organisations speak
of having 'executed' a person they have actually committed a murder.
It is usually only used as a punishment for particularly serious types
of murder, but in some countries treason, types of fraud, adultery and
rape are capital crimes.
The phrase 'capital punishment' comes from the Latin word for the
head. A 'corporal' punishment, such as flogging, takes its name from
the Latin word for the body.
Capital punishment is used in many countries around the world.
According to Amnesty International as at May 2012, 141 countries
have abolished the death penalty either in law on in practice.
China executes the most people per year overall, with an estimated
figure of 1,718 in 2008. Amnesty International also states that in 2008
Iran executed at least 346 people, the USA 111, Saudi Arabia 102 and
Pakistan 36.
Details of which countries are abolitionist and which are retentionist
can be found on the Amnesty website.
Capital punishment is often justified with the argument that by
executing convicted murderers, we will deter would-be murderers
from killing people.
Executions, especially where they are painful, humiliating, and public,
may create a sense of horror that would prevent others from being
tempted to commit similar crimes BUT Some proponents of capital
punishment argue that capital punishment is beneficial even if it has
no deterrent effect. .In our day death is usually administered in
private by relatively painless means, such as injections of drugs, and
to that extent it may be less effective as a deterrent.
Of course capital punishment doesn't rehabilitate the prisoner and
return them to society. But there are many examples of persons
condemned to death taking the opportunity of the time before
execution to repent, express remorse, and very often experience
profound spiritual rehabilitation. This is not an argument in favour of
capital punishment, but it demonstrates that the death penalty can
lead to some forms of rehabilitation.

A Japanese argument
The argument goes that the death penalty reinforces the belief that
bad things happen to those who deserve it. This reinforces the
contrary belief; that good things will happen to those who are 'good'.
Oddly, this argument seems to be backed up by Japanese public
opinion. Those who are in favour currently comprise 81% of the
population, or that is the official statistic. Nonetheless there is also a
small but increasingly vociferous abolitionist movement in Japan.
Value of human life
Everyone thinks human life is valuable. Some of those against capital
punishment believe that human life is so valuable that even the worst
murderers should not be deprived of the value of their lives. They
believe that the value of the offender's life cannot be destroyed by
the offender's bad conduct - even if they have killed someone.
The most common and most cogent argument against capital
punishment is that sooner or later, innocent people will get killed,
because of mistakes or flaws in the justice system. There is ample
evidence that such mistakes are possible: in the USA, 130 people
sentenced to death have been found innocent since 1973 and
released from death row.
Buddhism and punishment
Buddhism believes fundamentally in the cycle of birth and re-birth
(Samsara) and teaches that if capital punishment is administered it
will have compromising effects on the souls of both offender and the
punisher in future incarnations.
Hinduism and capital punishment
There is no official Hindu line on capital punishment. However,
Hinduism opposes killing, violence and revenge, in line with the
principle of ahimsa (non-violence).
Old Testament
In total, the Old Testament specifies 36 capital offences including
crimes such as idolatry, magic and blasphemy, as well as murder.