Timelines
Protection Against Cruel and Unusual Punishment

  • 1608
    First Execution Carried Out In Colonies

  • 1790
    Anti-Death Penalty Movement Takes Shape

  • 1791
    Eighth Amendment Passed

  • 1878
    Execution By Public Shooting Not 'Cruel And Unusual' Punishment

  • 1888
    Electric Chair Is Introduced

  • 1890
    Execution By Electrocution Ruled Constitutional

  • 1900
    Some States Abolish Death Penalty

  • 1910
    Punishment Must Be Appropriate To Crime

  • 1924
    Use Of Cyanide Gas Introduced In Executions

  • 1947
    2nd Attempt At Electrocution, After First One Fails, Not 'Cruel And Unusual'

  • 1958
    Court Cites 'Evolving Standards' When Death Penalty Imposed

  • 1972
    Most Death Penalty Statutes Declared Unconstitutional

  • 1976
    Indifference To Prisoner's Medical Needs Is 'Cruel And Unusual'
    Mandatory Death Sentences Are Struck Down
    Court Defines When Death Penalty Is Constitutional

  • 1977
    Death Penalty Ruled Unconstitutional For Certain Crimes
    Corporal Punishment Of Schoolchildren Not 'Cruel And Unusual'
    Lethal Injection Introduced As Execution Method

  • 1978
    Isolation Of Inmates May Be 'Cruel And Unusual'

  • 1980
    Mandatory Life Terms For 3-Strike Offenders Upheld

  • 1981
    'Double Celling' In Prisons Is Constitutional

  • 1982
    Offender's Youth Is Mitigating Factor In Imposing Death Penalty
    Death Penalty Struck Down For Accomplices To Felony Murders

  • 1986
    Execution Of Insane Inmates Banned

  • 1988
    Execution Of Juveniles Found Unconstitutional

  • 1989
    Execution Of Mentally Retarded Inmates Is Upheld

  • 1993
    Evidence Of Innocence Not Enough to Invalidate Death Sentence

  • 1997
    Electric Chair Challenged Again In Florida
    Electric Chair Malfunctions In Florida

  • 2000
    Ill. Governor Declares Moratorium On Executions
    Report Shows Racial And Geographic Disparities In Executions

  • 2002
    Court Reverses Itself On Executing Mentally Retarded Inmates

  • 2003
    New Standards For Defense Counsel's Obligations In Capital Cases

  • 2005
    Execution Of Juveniles Held Unconstitutional

  • 2008
    Court Upholds Lethal Injection Method In Ky.
    Court Rejects Death Penalty For Child Rape

  • 2010
    No Life Term Without Parole for Juveniles Guilty of Crimes Other Than Homicide

  • 2012
    Justices Restrict Mandatory Life Terms for Juveniles

  • 2015
    Lethal Injection Procedure Allowed

  • 2016
    Parole Right for Juveniles Sentenced To Life Extended