For Educators

The Death Penalty – Background


In this lesson, students will have an opportunity to explore the controversy surrounding capital punishment by reviewing and discussing a number of Religion and Ethics resources, as well as other sources of information. The lesson exposes students to a number of different viewpoints from religious leaders and communities, and to some of the main arguments in support of and in opposition to the death penalty. Students will have the opportunity to develop their interviewing and position-development skills and will learn to synthesize the information they have gathered in the form of a final presentation.

Grade Level:

Grades 6-8

Time Allotment:

5-7 class periods

Note: The time needed for each learning activity is approximate. It will vary depending on the particular needs and skills of your students, as well as on course parameters and time constraints.

Subject Matter:

U.S. History; U.S. Government; Ethics; Culture and Society; Sociology; Religion.

Learning Objectives:

Students will:

  • Conduct research on important background information regarding the death penalty.
  • Use analytical skills to explore and understand the viewpoints of various religious communities regarding capital punishment.
  • Understand the controversy generated by capital punishment.
  • Work in cooperative groups.
  • Develop interviewing skills.
  • Synthesize the information they gather during the unit through interviews and in a class presentation.
  • Understand the following vocabulary: capital punishment/death penalty, retribution, moratorium, DNA evidence, religious denominations, abolition, and exoneration.


This lesson was prepared by: Thandi Center