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The Death Penalty Capital Punishment: For or Against.

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Presentation on theme: "The Death Penalty Capital Punishment: For or Against."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Death Penalty Capital Punishment: For or Against

2 8th Amendment “ Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted. ”cruel and unusual punishments Constitutional Question: – Is the Death Penalty as a punishment “Cruel and Unusual”? – Is this a national issue or a state issue?

3 Arguments for the Death Penalty Eye for an eye Keeps most dangerous out of society The punishment fits the crime They deserve it Its legal and the people want it Sends message to future murderers and criminals not to commit crime Teaches people a lesson

4 Arguments against the Death Penalty Killing is wrong no matter who does it. Doesn’t stop murder Sends wrong message that murder is okay. Old fashioned idea need to move on to the future Not civilized. Takes too long to put someone to death Prison is worse punishment.

5 Important Court Decisions Furman v. Georgia 1972 Facts – Furman was burglarizing a private home He attempted to flee, and in doing so tripped and fell. The gun that he was carrying went off and killed a resident of the home. He was convicted of murder and sentenced to death.

6 Constitutional Question: Furman V. Georgia 1972 Question: Does the imposition and carrying out of the death penalty in these cases constitute cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments? Decision Yes, The death penalty decisions are arbitrary and different for each case making them unfair. Racially biased No uniform code or guidelines Death penalty is unconstitutional under current system All death penalty cases were halted and no state could use the death penalty

7 Gregg v. Georgia 1976 Gregg v. Georgia (1976), punishment by death is not per se cruel and unusual under the Eighth Amendment, and that “guided discretion” statutes are Okay State must have guidelines that are used equally to all. Georgia created guidelines that were acceptable to the SCOTUS so any state that has “guided discretion” can have the death penalty

8 More on Gregg v. Georgia Georgia’s new guidelines The defendant has previously been convicted of a capital felony or has a history of committing serious felonies.capital felonyfelonies The capital felony was committed while the defendant was committing another capital felony. The defendant created a grave risk of death to others. The defendant committed the crime for the purpose of receiving money or anything else of value. The defendant killed a judge or prosecutor exercising his official duties. The defendant hired a killer. The crime was "outrageously or wantonly vile, horrible, or inhuman in that it involved torture, depravity of mind, or an aggravated battery to the victim."[5][5] The defendant killed a police officer, prison guard, or fireman in the line of duty. The offense was committed by someone who had escaped from prison. The offense was committed for the purpose of avoiding arrest.

9 Death penalty after Gregg v. Georgia The Supreme Court Stated the following Death penalty must be for capital offense Must have guidelines that are used justly and equally No mandatory death penalty Judge must be allowed to take into account the victim and accused character and nature of crime Death penalty itself is not unconstitutional or cruel and unusual, but the method or guidelines for determining who gets the D.P. is what needs to be judged

10 Answer to Constitutional Questions Is the Death Penalty Cruel and Unusual? Supreme Court – Death Penalty is not cruel and unusual It depends on how it is determined and for whom it is given Guidelines are needed that are fair Is it a state issue or a national issue? Yes it is a state issue Each state must decide for themselves whether or not they should have it

11 Continued Is it a state issue? – Yes it is a state issue Each state must decide for themselves whether or not they should have it 35 states with the death penalty + Federal Government + military 15 without the death penalty + District of Columbia

12 STATES WITH THE DEATH PENALTY Alabama Arizona Arkansas California Colorado Connecticut Delaware Florida Georgia Idaho Illinois Indiana Kansas Kentucky Louisiana Maryland Mississippi Missouri Montana Nebraska Nevada New Hampshire North Carolina Ohio Oklahoma Oregon Pennsylvania South Carolina South Dakota Tennessee Texas Utah Virginia Washington Wyoming ALSO - U.S. Gov't - U.S. Military

13 STATES WITHOUT THE DEATH PENALTY (YEAR ABOLISHED IN PARENTHESES) Alaska (1957) Hawaii (1948) Iowa (1965) Maine (1887) Massachusetts (1984) Michigan (1846) Minnesota (1911) New Jersey (2007) New Mexico* (2009) New York (2007)# North Dakota (1973) Rhode Island (1984)** Vermont (1964) West Virginia (1965) Wisconsin (1853) ALSO - Dist. of Columbia (1981)

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15 Woodson v. North Carolina Supreme Court declared mandatory capital- punishment legislation unconstitutional. A separate sentencing trial is required to hear arguments for or against giving a person the death penalty.

16 Enmund v. Florida (1982) and Tison v. Arizona (1987), the justices clarified the circumstances under which the “nontrigger-person” in a felony murder can be sentenced to death. Eighth Amendment - death penalty is too severe for an offender such as Enmund who "aids and abets a felony in the course of which a murder is committed by others but who does not himself kill, attempt to kill, or intend that a killing take place or that lethal force will be employed.“ The getaway car driver is not deserving of the Death Penalty

17 Coker v. Georgia (1977) Unconstitutional for a the Death Penalty to be given as a punishment for the crime of raping an adult.

18 Thompson v. Oklahoma ( ) William W. Thompson, a 15-year- old at the time of his crime, was tried as an adult for murder, found guilty, and sentenced to death On appeal, the Supreme Court held in a 5-3 decision that Thompson's execution would violate the 8th Amendment Executing anyone under 16 is UNCONSTITUTIONAL

19 Stanford v. Kentucky (1989) and Penry v. Lynaugh (1989) respectively, that the federal Constitution does not prohibit the execution of 16- and 17-year old murderers, or mentally retarded murderers You can execute 16 and 17 year olds and Mentally retarded murderers

20 Ford v. Wainwright 1986 The Supreme Court upheld the rule that the insane cannot be Executed The Accused gets a COMPETENCY hearing to determine if they are fit to stand trial If a person is declared incompetent, they cannot enter a plea to a criminal charge or be tried for it.

21 Competency Hearing A Trial to check whether the accused is COMPETENT TO STAND TRIAL Are the Insane? Mentally handicapped ? Do they know what they did or what is happening to them? Defense must prove insanity or mental incapacity to stand trial. 1.Each side presents expert testimony, expert witnesses, and evidence to prove… - Prosecution: “he is sane and is capable of knowing what is going on?” - Defense: “he is not capable of knowing what is going on or what happened? Judge decides if the accused is able to stand trial or knew what they had done during the crime

22 Godfrey v. Georgia (1980), Should the details of a capital crime involving acts that were “outrageously or wantonly vile, horrible and inhuman...” murder enough to give the accused the death penalty? No. A death sentence imposed on the grounds that a murder was “outrageously or wantonly vile, horrible, and inhuman” is arbitrary and capricious and therefore unconstitutional for violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution

23 Trial Judge can give the DEATH PENALTY even though the JURY advised life in prison Spaziano v. Florida (1984)

24 McCleskey v. Kemp (1987) Rejected the argument that death penalty was cruel and unusual because of the following 1. African American defendant claims he was convicted because he was black 2. Killers of whites were more likely to be charged and given the death penalty 3. Killers of Blacks were unlikely to be charged and given the death penalty

25 Atkins v. virginia 2002 Executions of Mentally retarded criminals is “Cruel and Unusual”. A person with an IQ below 70 is considered to be mentally retarded. From 1984 to mentally retarded inmates were executed A person who is Mentally Retarded does not know the consequences of their actions or is not competent to stand trial

26 Crimes Subject to the Death Penalty Capital offense (Murder) Treason Use of Weapons of mass Destruction resulting in death Espionage, Terrorism, certain violations of the Geneva Conventions that result in death of one or more people Extortionate kidnapping in Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky and South CarolinaGeorgiaIdahoKentuckySouth Carolina Aircraft Hijacking: Alabama Drug Trafficking resulting in death: Connecticut, Florida Train wrecking and Perjury (lying under oath) that results in a death

27 Military Crimes Punishable by death desertion, mutiny, spying and misconduct before the enemy are punishable by death if you are in the armed services


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