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Capital Punishment - 2

  • Date Submitted: 11/19/2012 06:37 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 32.1 
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Twenty five years ago, in Furman v. Georgia, the U.S. Supreme Court considered whether the death penalty violated the Eighth Amendment prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. The Court explained that the lack of uniform standards for the application of the death penalty resulted in arbitrary and discriminatory sentencing, violating the Eighth Amendment prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. The death penalty was thus rendered unconstitutional. In response to this decision, states modified their death penalty legislation to accommodate the concerns of the Court. In the 1976 case, Gregg v. Georgia, the Court upheld the constitutionality of the death penalty, as applied under the new statutes.

In the 25 years since the Court's decision in Furman, an international movement to abolish the death penalty has grown based on the human rights principles of the right to life and the right to be protected from cruel, inhuman, or degrading punishment both of which can be found in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, borrowing from the American Bill of Rights, emphasizes the right to life. The death penalty inherently contradicts this principle. In 1976, the United Nations adopted the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which, in Article 6, recognizes the death penalty as an exception to the right to life. Article 6 includes safeguards for implementation of the death penalty and denotes abolition of the death penalty as its ultimate objective. The United States signed the ICCPR in 1992, entering a reservation on Article 6.

In 1989, the UN General Assembly adopted the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR Aimed at the Abolition of the Death Penalty. To emphasize the notion that abolition of the death penalty reflects human progress, the first sentence of the Second Optional Protocol states that "abolition of the death penalty contributes to the enhancement of human dignity and...


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