The Supreme Court Case Of Furman V. Georgia Essay

1998 Words May 4th, 2016 8 Pages
In the United States, the legality of the death penalty was challenged in the landmark Supreme Court case of Furman v. Georgia in 1972. The Court declared that the death penalty in unconstitutional in, at least, certain applications because the punishment violates the Constitution’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment. Justice Thurgood Marshall, who argued that the death penalty was unconstitutional in all instances, writes that there are six conceivable defenses given to justify capital punishment, which are “retribution, deterrence, prevention of repetitive criminal acts, encouragement of guilty pleas and confessions, eugenics and economy.” Since a person who is executed cannot possibly commit a future criminal act, that argument is invalid. Also, eugenic justification is roundly abhorred in the 21st century. Encouragement of guilty pleas is generally an unaccepted practice in the American legal system as well. Consequently, there remains the possibility that capital punishment is allowed based on retribution, deterrence, and economy.
While at times the justification for capital punishment is argued in terms of deterrence or economy, the American public supports capital punishment almost entirely out of a desire for retribution against the criminal. In this circumstance, retribution is little more than vengeance masquerading behind the veneer of law. The most common platitude heard when a person remarks on the fate of a condemned individual is that the criminal…

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