Friday, November 21, 2014

Or was my memory playing games with my head
For some reason, the other day, I was a thinking, that years ago The Supreme Court had ended The Death Penalty. The thought came out of left field. Perhaps the latest news flash about the subject woke something in my subconscious. But I remembered that sometime in the 1960's or 1970's the high court had ended the punishment. If so how was it that people were being put to death left and right lately via the Death Penalty…I mean was my mind playing tricks on me.
So I just googled and discovered, I wasn't losing my mind. Yes, I was correct. It was in 1972. The Supreme Court did overturn 'most' Death Penalty Laws. 
Supreme Court Overturns Most Death Penalty LawsIn the 1972 case of Furman v. Georgia, 408 U.S. 153 (1972), the Supreme Court issued a 5-4 decision effectively striking down most federal and state death penalty laws finding them "arbitrary and capricious." The court held that the death penalty laws, as written, violated the "cruel and unusual punishment" provision of the Eighth Amendment and the due process guarantees of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Supreme Court Upholds New Death Penalty LawsThe Supreme Court's decision in Furman v. Georgia did not rule the death penalty itself to be unconstitutional, only the specific laws by which it was applied. Thus, the states quickly began to write new death penalty laws designed to comply with the court's ruling. 
But, afterwards creative legal minds worked their magic to get that lovely form punishment back into the equation of how we can punish the guilty in this land of opportunity.
The first of the new death penalty laws created by the states of Texas, Florida and Georgia gave the courts wider discretion in applying the death penalty for specific crimes and provided for the current "bifurcated" trial system, in which a first trial determines guilt or innocence and a second trial determines punishment. The Texas and Georgia laws allowed the jury to decide punishment, while Florida's law left the punishment up to the trial judge. 
Whats most troubling to me was, that all the states currently performing these executions all enacted new laws to go-around the new provisions written by The Supreme Court's ending the 'punishment'. I guess not all citizens of these United States are created equal.  
Here's the link:
Just one man's opinion
© Neil Feigeles, Neilizms, Friday, Nov. 21, 2014

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