Law Dictionary

Furman v. Georgia

U.S. Case Law

legal Definition of Furman v. Georgia

408 U.S. 238 (1972), ruled that capital punishment laws, as then enforced, were unconstitutional. The Court stated that the death penalty itself did not violate the Constitution but the manner of its application in many states did. It was shown that capital punishment was likely to be imposed in a discriminatory way and that blacks in particular were far more likely to be executed than whites. The decision required a system for applying the death penalty that would not be discriminatory against any racial or other minority. Many states have since passed laws that meet the Court's requirements of specifying the crimes or circumstances for which the death penalty is to be considered.

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