The United States Supreme Court's decision in 1972's Furman v. Georgia held that the death penalty violated the 8th Amendment's prohibition of "cruel and unusual punishment."
“ Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted ” (U.S. Constitution: Eighth Amendment).
The United States Supreme Court’s decision in 1972’s Furman v. Georgia held that the death penalty violated the 8th Amendment’s prohibition of “cruel and unusual punishment.”
The Court also found that capital punishment violated the principle of equal protection, since executions were carried out mainly against the poor, African-Americans, and the uneducated.
However, with the promise of a new generation of capital punishment statutes promising equal justice and less cruel methods of execution, such as lethal injection, capital punishment was reinstated in 1976 in Gregg v. Georgia.
Consider the following statistics gathered by the Death Penalty Information Center:
- As of July 1, 2006, there were 3370 people on death row.
- Since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, 1029 people have been executed, 60 in 2005 alone.
- The number of death sentences has dropped 55% since the late 1990s.