Bilan faller - Dödsstraffet och dess avskaffande
Sammanfattning: The goal of the following essay is to investigate any changes in the debate regarding the Swedish death penalty which took place during the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century until the death penalty was abolished in 1921. To be able to undertake such an investigation it’s my personal belief that one first must know the basics of Swedish history. Therefore the essay starts with a section that briefly describes the evolution of the Swedish society and the Swedish legal history. Thereafter follows a section that aims to clarify and monitor the debate regarding the death penalty. The essay will be concluded with a section that analyses the information that has been given in previous sections. The Swedish history is largely marked by war and conflict with both our neighboring states as well as within the kingdom itself. The young state governed by Birger Jarl and King Magnus Ladulås however established a fragile foundation upon which the kingdom was later built and expanded by Gustav Vasa after the Kalmar union had ceased to exist. The king centralized much of the power in the realm to his own person and also reformed the church. During this period the death penalty was commonly used and continued to be so until the 19th century. Until this period Sweden was often involved in wars and developed slowly. After 1809, however, the kingdom entered the industrial revolution which urbanized and developed the state. During the same time a secularization process started. In the same period the old parliament with nobles, priests, commoners and peasants were replaced with a parliament with two chambers. During the 19th century the death penalty was repeatedly reduced and was abolished in 1921. The debate regarding the death penalty during this time was concentrated on a few central arguments which were recurring during the entire debate. These were, crime prevention, the problem that occurs if a lifetime sentenced prisoner commits new crimes, the duty of the state to defend itself and its citizens, that the death penalty is barbaric and belongs in the past, that the possibility of improvement for death sentenced disappears and the risk that an innocent is executed. Other arguments were more temporary and more influenced by the time during which they existed. Such arguments were religious arguments which were stronger and more reoccurring in the beginning of the debate. Psychological arguments and comparative studies were more occurring in the later debate. The debate regarding the death penalty was during the entire 19th century and the beginning of 20th century rather uniform and constant and didn’t change much. The reasons for this are, in my opinion, that the “core” of the death penalty is constant and unchanging. The changes in the debate are rather linked to the social development. The recurring argument that the time for the abolishment has to be right is hence very accurate since the abolishment rather is connected to social growth and development of the state, than to the hardly changing debate. A premature removal of the death penalty from the penal code would with this point of view be impossible hence the state and the people wouldn’t be ready for it, e.g. medieval Sweden. The social changes that took place during the 19th and early 20th centuries planted the seed for what would later become this process of development of the state and are the reason why the evolvement, despite heavy debate, into the sufficient developed state took time.
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