Furman v. Georgia Case Essay

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In Furman V. Georgia, 408 U.S. 238, 92 S. Ct. 2726, 33 L. Ed.2d. 346, (1972) the issue brought before the Supreme Court was, “Did the death penalty, as it was administered at the time violate the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution.” The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case, and certiorari was granted but limited to the following question. “Does the imposition and carrying out of the death penalty in these three cases constitute cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments?”
Furman, a black, 26 year old, confessed that he did not know that he had shot or killed the homeowner; all he was trying to do was escape from the house he had set out to burglarize, and did not know that anyone had died
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. . . In looking for reliable indicata of contemporary attitude, none more trustworthy has been advanced.”
Although the court did not rule the death penalty itself unconstitutional, it did find its use to be arbitrary and capricious. For the first time in its long history that the Supreme Court had decided a case against capital punishment and the death sentence was on hold, while state legislatures rewrote their death penalty statutes. The majority of the newly rewritten laws separated the guilt phase from the penalty phase, and provided guidance for the juries during the penalty phase, and included a chance to present both mitigating and aggravating factors.

The debate about whether the death penalty was “cruel and unusual” continued in a 1976 Supreme Court case, Gregg v. Georgia, 428 U.S. 153, 96 S. Ct. 2909, 49 L. Ed.2d 859 (1976). This time the court would look at three issues:

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