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Baryshev E.O. The Furman v. Georgia case and its influence on the institution of capital punishment in the USA

Published in journal "The Union of Criminalists and Criminologists", 2015-1 in rubric "Science and practice abroad", pages 118-125.

Resume: The research subject includes the legal aspects of the Furman v. Georgia, the Gregg v. Georgia and other significant cases which had influenced the development of the institution of capital punishment in the USA in the late 20th century. The author considers the Furman v. Georgia case’s plot, pays attention to the social and legal prerequisites of the 1972 moratorium on the death penalty and its abolition in 1976. Special attention is paid to the analysis of the positions of the judges of the US Supreme Court and the post-Furman tendencies. The main research methods are the technical and the comparative-legal methods. The study is based on the analysis of the key cases of the US Supreme Court. Significant attention is paid to the evolution of the issue by means of the historical method. The author comes to the following conclusions: 1) the temporary moratorium on the death penalty in the US was a necessary stage of legal evolution; 2) the pause was needed for the reformation of criminal procedural legislation, the solution of the burning social and legal problems related to the death penalty. The novelty of the study lies in the fact that the problem of imposition and further abolition of the moratorium on the death penalty in the USA hasn’t been studied in the Russian literature yet. The author concludes that the issue of the constitutional character of the death penalty in the USA is unlikely to be raised in the future, since in the late 20th century the legal procedure improvement tendency had formed. The author applies general philosophical methods including dialectics, the system method, analysis, synthesis, analogy, deduction, observation, modeling), legal methods (formal-logical), and the methods of specific sociological studies (statistical, expert assessments, etc.). The Gregg v. Georgia case has become the logic continuation of the Furman’s case. The death penalty is developing independently from the wills and the aspirations of the US Supreme Court being a significant socio-political phenomenon and a certain pattern of the American society’s conscience. The judges of the Supreme Court along with the citizens are the participants of the same historical process. The considered post-Furman tendencies equate and correct the application of a “cruel and unusual punishment”. We suppose that the issue of humanization and improvement of the procedure will be topical during a long period of time. 

Keywords: death penalty, democracy, rights, freedom, moratorium, violation, sanction, court, protection, case

DOI: 10.7256/2310-8681.2015.1.18603

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