Despite the wide use of the death penalty, calls for reform were not unknown. The 12th century Jewish legal scholar, Moses Maimonides , wrote, "It is better and more satisfactory to acquit a thousand guilty persons than to put a single innocent man to death." He argued that executing an accused criminal on anything less than absolute certainty would lead to a slippery slope of decreasing burdens of proof , until we would be convicting merely "according to the judge's caprice". Maimonides's concern was maintaining popular respect for law, and he saw errors of commission as much more threatening than errors of omission. 
NEWS (10/16) : The . Supreme Court has reversed the Florida Supreme Court's denial of death-row prisoner Tavares Wright's challenge to his death sentence on grounds of Intellectual Disability . The Court reversed and remanded Wright's case, directing the Florida courts to reconsider his intellectual disability claim in light of the constitutional standard set forth in Moore v. Texas . See . Supreme Court, 2017-2018 Term .
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In his encyclical The Gospel of Life , Pope John Paul II told us that we have an inescapable responsibility of choosing to be unconditionally pro-life .18 This Catholic campaign brings us together for common action to end the use of the death penalty, to reject a culture of death, and to build a culture of life. It poses an old and fundamental choice: I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live. (Dt 30:19)
—USCCB, A Culture of Life and the Penalty of Death
Explanation of the federal government's death penalty laws, procedures and eligible crimes.
Hanging of the four people convicted for murdering Abraham Lincoln (1865)