Saturday, June 29, 2013

June 29: Supreme Court rules on death penalty

On this date in History ..... June 29, 1972:

For the first time, the Supreme Court rules against the death penalty, in Furman v. Georgia, calling it “cruel and unusual punishment” as it was currently used, saying that states primarily used it in “arbitrary and capricious ways especially in regard to race.” However, the Court also suggested legislation that would make it constitutional again, such as guidelines for juries that were standardized as they applied to sentencing. 

As a result of this ruling over 600 prisoners had their death sentences lifted, including Charles Manson, and Richard Speck  (murdered 8 student nurses in Chicago 1966).  

Four years later, the Court acknowledged that progress in this regard had been made and reinstated the use of the death penalty. Gary Gilmore was the first to die under the new ruling, famous for his last words of “Let’s do it.”

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