Date of Award

Spring 2001

Document Type

Legacy Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)


Political Science


College of Humanities and Fine Arts

First Advisor

Richard O. Collin


One of the most controversial issues in the United States today is capital punishment. It is an issue that has been vigorously and passionately debated for years both in the courts and in society. Despite the controversy around it, capital punishment is largely popular in American public opinion polls and is used in the majority of American states. This popularity and prevalence may lead many Americans to assume that capital punishment is just as popular and common elsewhere in the world. In that, they would be greatly mistaken. Capital punishment is by and large disfavored on the world scene and the majority of the world's nations have abolished it. The international status of capital punishment has a direct impact on the legality of the death penalty around the world-including the United States. While the legality of capital punishment in U.S. domestic law has been consistently upheld by the United States Supreme Court, its legality may soon be challenged under international law. In international law, a concept exists called customary international law, which is created by international state practice. This report analyzes the American use of capital punishment in regards to international practices to see if the United States is in violation of customary international law. Analysis reveals that though the United States execution of adults does not yet violate customary international law, its execution of juvenile offenders does violate customary international law.