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The Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits infliction of "cruel and unusual punishments." The Supreme Court established the basic principles applying this amendment to the death penalty during a six-year period in the 1970's. First, in 1972, in Furman v. Georgia, the Court invalidated all then-existing death penalty statutes. Second, in 1976, in Gregg v. Georgia and its companions, the Court upheld some of the statutes promulgated in response to Furman but invalidated others. Finally, in 1978, in Lockett v. Ohio, the Court invalidated an Ohio statute because it failed to give the sentencer a sufficient opportunity to give effect to mitigating factors that might have justified a sentence less than death.


Constitutional Law | Criminal Procedure | Law