The case Furman vs. Georgia is one of the most significant cases in the United States of America, when speaking about death penalty. In 1971, Mr. Furman broke into one house. He made much noise, hence, decided to escape. When escaping, Mr. Furman dropped his gun. The gun appeared to be loaded and killed the owner of the house. When police officers came to Mr. Furman to interview him, he stated that the gun had not been loaded. In this way, Mr. Furman’s case became not administrative (robbery), but a criminal one.
Although, Mr. Furman claimed that the gun has not been loaded, he was sentenced to death, according to the felony murder rule. Mr. Furman appealed. He stated that the court’s decision violated the fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America. The Supreme Court of the United States of America decided that it was a cruel decision, violating the eighth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.
It took a long time to decide upon this case. The judges provided the court with a more than two hundred pages explanation of their decision. It has been decided per curiam that Furman did not deserve capital punishment. Five judges (Douglas, Brennan, Stewart, White, and Marshall) out of nine were for Furman. Four judges (Burger, Blackmun, Powell, and Rehnquist) wrote a dissent.
The impact of this case cannot be underestimated. The case Furman vs. Georgia started a new movement against unreasonable death punishment verdicts. The Congress of the United States of America adopted the law, which prohibited unconstitutional death penalties. In 1972, it has been found that almost all death penalties verdicts were unconstitutional. The next years, most of the states of the country adopted new laws on death penalty.
The case Furman vs. Georgia influenced the entire criminal justice system. The point is that the defendant, Mr. Furman, was black. Some researchers suggested that he had been sentenced to death only by his skin color. In the next several years, the court system of the United States of America, as well as the criminal justice system, oversaw the attitude to the representatives of other nations and nationalities.
The case had impact on prisoners, as well. Those, who were sentenced to death and waited for it in prisons, were left alive, but remained incarcerated. Although, this did not mean that all sentences were unconstitutional and cruel. The point is that the main aim was to show that judicial system was going to sentence defendant wiser. On the other hand, in the next years, the Supreme Court of the United States of America sentenced even more defendants to death. (Oshinsky, p. 84)
The case Furman vs. Georgia was, and still remains, a significant case in the United States criminal justice system. When researching the case, it becomes clear how an administrative case can become a criminal one. The case shows the significance of fight for nation representatives. Mr. Furman realized that death penalty was too cruel for him, as well as it violated the fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America. He struggled for himself and saved lives of thousand sentenced to death. Moreover, the case had a great impact on the development of the criminal justice system in the country.
n.a. (1971) Furman vs. Georgia. Retrieved from http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=US&vol=408&invol=238
Oshinsky D. (2011) Capital Punishment on Trial. Landmark Law Cases and American Society