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Constitutional Argument in Support of Capital Punishment

Constitutional Argument in Support of Capital Punishment

In my opinion, one of the most controversial topics in the Supreme Court is the idea of capital punishment. The Eighth Amendment of the United States constitution guarantees freedom from cruel and unusual punishment but the Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of the death penalty in today’s society. Thirty-eight states and the federal government authorize capital punishment and the number of people on death row has risen to more than 3,500 (Clear and Cole). Of the yearly 22,000 arrests each year for murder only about 300 will receive the death penalty (Clear and Cole). There are several different views on the death penalty that some people accept or reject based on their political or moral views.

In the 1930s, there were about 150 executions per year but then it was on a steady decline until the case of Furman v. Georgia in 1972. This case ruled that the death penalty was constituted as cruel and unusual punishment. So the death penalty was banned until 1976 in the case of Gregg v. Georgia in which the court decided to have two different trials: 1-to prove if the defendant was guilty or innocent, 2- to decide what the punishment should be. This second trial takes in concern the criminal’s prior record, youthfulness, mental issues, or the lack of a criminal record. “The purpose of the two-stage decision-making process is to ensure thorough deliberation before someone is given the ultimate punishment (Clear and Cole).” So after this case the number of executions have increased but since this case the most amount of executions was 74 in 1997(ACLU). Today 38 states use the death penalty in several different ways: lethal injection, electrocution, lethal gas, hanging, or a firing squad.


There are many people that oppose the death penalty and even states like Alaska, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and District of Columbia (Cleveland State Law Review 5). People say state there rejection of the death penalty by saying

“ We simply do not believe that premeditated, state-sanctioned killing is justifiable under any circumstances. The death penalty brutalizes us. It is an indication of how little our government values human life (Christian Science Monitor).”

Opponents of the death penalty argue that it is not applied...

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