Most Death Penalty Statutes Are Declared Unconstitutional

1972

The U.S. Supreme Court decides three cases known as a group by the name of Furman v. Georgia, finding that Georgia’s death penalty statute, which gives juries complete discretion in sentencing, violates the Eighth Amendment, arguing that death penalties had been rendered in an arbitrary and discriminatory manner. This ends Georgia’s death penalty and those in forty other states. Thirty-five states draft new death penalty laws to meet the Supreme Court’s concerns. Some create sentencing guidelines for judges and juries. Some create a specific list of crimes for which the death penalty is mandated, and others draft a list of “aggravating” and “mitigating” factors to help judges and juries decide the appropriateness of the penalty in each case.