Furman V Georgia

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Almost all Americans are aware of the Bill of Rights, and they know what their rights are. One of those rights is the protection against cruel and unusual punishment. So what makes a punishment cruel or unusual? In 1971 William Furman appealed the ruling he received when he accidently killed someone while committing a crime. Furman, a black male, while robbing a house was caught by someone in the house. When Furman tried to leave he tripped and the loaded firearm he was carrying went off killing one individual in the house. Furman went to trial and was found guilty of murder and sentenced to the death penalty. Furman appealed and took the ruling to the Supreme Court. Furman’s case was combined with two other black males when it went to the Supreme Court. The other two black males were given the death penalty for being found guilty of rape. At the time, the death penalty was sentenced more heavily on black individuals rather than whites. This lead to the belief that blacks were being treated unfairly. The decision was given five votes to overrule the previous ruling, with four votes that were aimed to keep the previous ruling. The five judges that were for overturning the decision also were divided on why they were against it. Two of the five stated that the death penalty in itself was cruel and unusual. The ruling from Furman V. Georgia set a precedent for how administrating the death penalty could take place. Even though the Supreme Court ruled against the death penalty in certain cases many states tried to re-write their death penalty laws to bypass the court’s ruling. In 2008, a similar case was presented to the Supreme Court. Kennedy v. Louisiana was a case in which Kennedy was convicted of aggravated rape of his eight year old step daughter. A Louisiana statute allowed the upgrade to the death penalty for the aggravate rape of an individual under twelve.

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