3/5/09 11:32 AM Is the death penalty constitutional? Does it constitute cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the 8th Amendment? State is prohibited from using cruel and unusual punishment If it is a question of unusual, then it doesn?t seem to right apply it to the death penalty because the punishment has been used since the inception of the republic Unusual may refer to the mode in which someone is executed New machine that can kill human Wanted to move humans away from killing as much as possible Uses of gassing also used in early 20th century 1890s: major revolution = electrocution moves so fast that brain cant process pain very violent to the body punishment is unusual if it breaches on race, social class, religion, or if it is done in a way that gives room for prejudices juries not made to explain their decisions important protection of individual but don?t make them accountable for their decision white people thought more likely to serve prison time rather than die, compared to black people at the end of the case the Supreme Court struck down the ruling of the death penalty for three cases said death penalty itself is not ?cruel and unusual? but the violation of 8th Amendment is in the cruel and unusual manner in which the decision is reached statistically unusual: very few of those who are convicted of capital crimes are sentenced to death; most sentenced to life in prison Justices can concur Can write a concurring opinion in order to reach a particular conclusion Dissenting opinion: justices do not agree with majority opinion and reasons why court is wrong Furmann vs. Georgia (reading) Death penalty is unconstitutional (justice) Restrict amount of pain defendant feels in the punishment How do we know if punishment violates human dignity? 1. Punishment becomes disproportionate to the crime 2. Punishment cannot be arbitrary 3. The punishment?s excessiveness; must fit crime can achieve this with life in prison 1972: no statistical evidence that says the death penalty deters at all death penalty struck down by court unconstitutional b/c they give juries too much arbitrary discretion when they decide in favor of death penalty began to give criteria for when juries could impose death penalty if crime did not fit these criteria then death penalty could not be imposed give juries guidance on whether or not to utilize death penalty *difference on how Supreme Court sees death penalty and how other writers see it as moral or legitimate or not *do other states have the constitutional power to use death penalty? *is it legitimate in our constitutional structure lecture 11 3/5/09 11:32 AM 3/5/09 11:32 AM
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