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This Article examines the possible racial and ethnic implications of California’s expansive death penalty statute in light of the Eighth Amendment’s requirement that each state statute narrow the subclass of offenders on whom a death sentence may be imposed. The narrowing requirement derives from the holding in Furman v. Georgia over forty-five years ago, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that existing death penalty statutes violated the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishments. Citing statistics demonstrating arbitrary and capricious application of capital punishment, a majority of the Justices concluded that a death sentencing scheme is unconstitutional if it provides “no meaningful basis for distinguishing the few cases in which [death] is imposed from the many cases in which it is not.”


Criminal Law | Law | Law and Race | Supreme Court of the United States