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The Death Penalty and the Eighth Amendment

The Death Penalty and the Eighth Amendment

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The Death Penalty and the Eighth Amendment

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  1. The Death Penalty and theEighth Amendment

  2. Admin • Opportunity to participate, be on the news! • 2:00, Thursday, Room 117 Wooten • First 60 students • Line up at 1:50 • Need a FERPA waiver – cross off “1050.001” and write in “1040.002”

  3. Admin • Workbook 6-6, Question 14, Answer “A” has a typo (it should say “20%” instead of “10%”) • 6-5 asks for information about women in particular jobs . . . If the information for a particular job is not available, don’t worry about it . . . Use the information on the website the best you can.

  4. Admin • Exam Make-up • If you want to retake (as opposed to make up) exam, you need to e-mail me (wwatson@unt.edu) • Why you shouldn’t do it . . . • Retake score will be final, even if it is lower • Gap since you learned material • Format

  5. Eighth Amendment • Prohibits cruel and unusual punishment • “evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society”

  6. Modern History of Death Penalty • Furman v. Georgia (1972) • Responses: • Death penalty for everyone! • Rejected by Supreme Court in Woodson v. N.C. (1976)) • Aggravating and mitigating factors • Accepted by the Supreme Court in Gregg v. Georgia (1976))

  7. Death Penalty Today • 37 states, the federal government, and the U.S. military have capital statutes • Number of inmates on death row = 3,350 • 393 death row inmates in Texas • 660 in California, but CA is slow to carry out sentences • Lethal injection available everywhere except Nebraska (electrocution)

  8. Public Opinion(All May 2006, Gallup) • Are your for or against DP? • 65% For • 28% Against • Which is better penalty, DP or LWOP? • 47% DP • 48% LWOP • Is DP imposed fairly? • 60% Fairly • 35% Unfairly

  9. 8th Amendment • Is death penalty per se cruel and unusual? • Only Justices Marshall and Brennan have advocated this position • Is death penalty as applied cruel and unusual? • Method of execution • Proportionality with crime (Coker v. Georgia (1977)) • Certain classes of defendants

  10. Classes of Defendants • Mentally ill (Ford v. Wainwright (1986)) • Mentally retarded (Atkins v. Virginia (2002)) • Juveniles (Roper v. Simmons (2005))

  11. Close-up on Roper • Simmons 17 at time of crime • 1989, Supreme Court held that 16-18 year olds could be executed • What changed?

  12. Justice Kennedy’s Opinion • What evidence is there that standards of decency now prohibit execution of 16- and 17-year olds? • Steady (though slow) trend toward abolition • 5 states abolished juvenile dp after 1989 • Even in states that allow it, juvenile dp rare • U.S. only country that still had juvenile dp (not controlling, but telling)

  13. Justice Kennedy’s Opinion • DP reserved for most serious crimes, most culpable defendants • Why are juveniles less culpable than adults? • Less mature, more given to impulsive behavior • More susceptible to bad influences • Character of juveniles not yet fixed (hope for rehabilitation) • Purpose of dp: retribution and deterrence