Capital punishment (from Latin caput, “head”), originally, death by decapitation; now, execution in general. Historically, there has been a wide variety of death penalties, but in the United States electrocution is the most common, followed by lethal gas and hanging. It has long been debated whether capital punishment deters serious crime or is only a form of revenge. Its use has been declining recently as belief in rehabilitation has grown. In most civilized countries, capital punishment has been discontinued. But those who believe that capital punishment is necessary as a deterrent see their argument supported by recent statistics showing that violent crime has been increasing. In the U.S. it is the state government that determines the use of capital punishment.