Below is one of our free research papers on Death Penalty. If the term paper below is not exactly what you're looking for, you can search our essay database for other topics.
The Death Penalty
American Civil Liberties Union Briefing Paper Number 8
THE DEATH PENALTY
Since our nation's founding, the government -- colonial, federal and state --
has punished murder and, until recent years, rape with the ultimate sanction:
death. More than 13,000 people have been legally executed since colonial times,
most of them in the early 20th Century. By the 1930s, as many as 150 people
were executed each year. However, public outrage and legal challenges caused
the practice to wane. By 1967, capital punishment had virtually halted in the
United States, pending the outcome of several court challenges.
In 1972, in _Furman v. Georgia_, the Supreme Court invalidated hundreds of
scheduled executions, declaring that then existing state laws were applied in an
"arbitrary and capricious" manner and, thus, violated the Eighth Amendment's
prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, and the Fourteenth Amendment's
guarantees of equal protection of the laws and due process. But in 1976, in _
Gregg v. Georgia_, the Court resuscitated the death penalty: It ruled that the
penalty "does not invariably violate the Constitution" if administered in a
manner designed to guard against arbitrariness and discrimination. Several
states promptly passed or reenacted capital punishment laws.
Thirty-seven states now have laws authorizing the death penalty, as does the
military. A dozen states in the Middle West and Northeast have abolished...