Gregg v. Georgia (Great Events from History: North American Series)
Article abstract: After declaring execution unconstitutional in 1972, the U.S. Supreme Court reinstates the death penalty contingent on protection against its arbitrary and capricious imposition.
Summary of Event
The death penalty is a method of punishment that historically has been applied globally for both serious and relatively minor crimes against state, person, and property. During the medieval and early modern periods of European history, the death sentence was used as punishment for many crimes and usually was administered in public, often accompanied by torture of the most painful and gruesome kind. The greatest abuse of the use of the death penalty was probably reached in eighteenth century England when it was decreed, although not regularly applied, for several hundred offenses, most representing crimes against property.
The increased use of the death penalty and the resulting public desensitization, accompanied by the humanitarian movement in the West known as the Age of Enlightenment, led to a growing reaction to its use, especially among the intellectuals of the age. The most famous early attack on the death penalty came from an Italian, Cesare Beccaria, whose Essay on Crimes and Punishments (1764) led to a rapidly growing demand for reform. The results were quick to come. During the French Revolution, for example, the guillotine was used as a more humane instrument of execution than...
(The entire section is 1810 words.)
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Gregg v. Georgia (West's Encyclopedia of American Law)
Modern U.S. death penalty JURISPRUDENCE begins with the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Gregg v. Georgia, 428 U.S. 153, 96 S. Ct. 2909, 49 L. Ed.2d 859 (1976). In that landmark case, the Court rejected the idea that CAPITAL PUNISHMENT is inherently CRUEL AND UNUSUAL PUNISHMENT under the EIGHTH AMENDMENT. In addition, it endorsed new state death penalty statutes that sought to address the criticisms that the Court had raised in FURMAN V. GEORGIA, 408 U.S. 238, 92 S. Ct. 2726, 33 L. Ed.2d 346 (1972). These statutes split the criminal trial into a guilt phase and a penalty phase, gave jurors specific aggravating and mitigating factors to consider in deliberating the death penalty, and mandated appellate review with designated factors for the court to consider. Finally, the states removed capital punishment as a sentencing option for crimes other than murder. Since Gregg, the issues surrounding the death penalty have turned on procedural fairness rather than questions of societal values.
By the early 1970s, the death penalty had been removed from the statute books in many countries, including Austria, Denmark, Great Britain, Portugal, Switzerland, Brazil, and Venezuela. In the United States, criticism of the ARBITRARY administration of capital punishment and its application to crimes other than murder led to judicial challenges based...
(The entire section is 996 words.)
Gregg v. Georgia (Great American Court Cases)
Legal Citation: 428 U.S. 153 (1976)
Troy Leon Gregg
State of Georgia
That the death penalty, even when imposed under the safeguards applied in the state of Georgia, violates the Eighth Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
Chief Lawyer for Petitioner
G. Hughel Harrison
Chief Lawyer for Respondent
G. Thomas Davis
Justices for the Court
Harry A. Blackmun, Warren E. Burger, Lewis F. Powell, Jr., William H. Rehnquist, John Paul Stevens, Potter Stewart (writing for the Court), Byron R. White
William J. Brennan, Jr., Thurgood Marshall
Date of Decision
2 July 1976
The Supreme Court upheld the death penalty as imposed by Georgia.
In 1972, in Furman v. Georgia, the Supreme Court had declared that the death penalty was unconstitutional. Over the next few years, a change in justices, as well as the imposition of certain procedures to prevent arbitrariness and...
(The entire section is 1736 words.)