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Furman v. Georgia

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In today’s time discrimination is a highly used factor when it comes to the way people form their opinions about societal issues as well as different individuals we may come in contact with. We base our perceptions of people off of what only the eye can see rather than getting to know a person for the skills they possess and what the can bring to the table. Back in 1967 discrimination was something that was common to use amongst the white or rich community towards the blacks, poor, or uneducated folks in the south. One situation in particular was a Supreme Court case of Furman v the state of Georgia. As you read throughout this paper I hope you began to form your own opinion about discrimination and the way it is used in our society as well as how this Supreme Court case has impacted the change in the way our judicial system works when it come to a fair and just conviction. In the furman v Georgia case discrimination played a large role in the verdict of Mr. Henry Furman. But before I get into that let me tell you a little something about the background of Henry Furman.

Furman was a 26 year old African- American man who was mentally ill, poor, and a felon in the eyes of the Court. One night while a man name Micke William jr. and his wife and 5 children were asleep, Furman took it upon himself to break in their house and scrummage through their things hoping to find something to with him. To Furmans surprise Williams heard him in his kitchen and once Furman was recognized by William, Fuman charged towards the door in hopes of getting away, as we worked his way out the door Furman dropped the hand gun he was carrying, it triggered and shot right through William’s chest killing him on the spot. After this incident Furman was ordered by the judge to first seek treatment at the local hospital where he was diagnosed psychotic and later tried in court for robbery, 2nd degree murder, and sentenced to the death penalty.

This case has so much significance simply because it was the deciding factor for a few other pending cases that were previously going on in both Georgia and Texas for similar reasons, and it also changed the way the court went about using such an extreme sentence such as the death penalty. On the opposing side of this case were Chief Justice Burger and Justices Blackmun, Powell, and Rehnquist, who all argued that the defendant was indeed worthy of the death penalty because of what they say was an intentional crime, but has been said to believe is that it was truly because he was African-American, poor, and uneducated that they really didn’t even want to give him the time of day. The justices that we in support of Furman were no other then the persons of William J. Brennan Jr, Bryon White, Thurgood Marshall, William O. Douglas, and Potter Stewart.

They all argued that sentencing him the death penalty was most certainly done in the act of discrimination but not only this it was cruel, unusual, and definitely strayed way from the rights Furman had under the constitution. On January 17th 1972 his case was decided. The court had a split decision of 5-4 and since majority always rules Furmans sentence of the death penalty was overturned and he was then sentenced to life in prison. With the outcome of this Case the death penalty was ruled illegal in 1976, it could not be used ever again unless there was solid evidence to back up the reasoning behind the death penalty, or the sentencing was delivered at the time of the trial. The outcome of this case also allowed for other states to rewrite their criminal codes when it came to the death penalty. In the decision making of this case the components of the 8th and 14th amendments were applied because the death penalty as they were being applied violated these two amendments and the rights of Henry Furman.

If this case had been decided differently, I believe that many people would be getting sentenced the death penalty for simple crimes or just because the jury felt like it. I don’t believe that peoples constitutional rights would be recognized because of the simple fact that discrimination plays such a heavy role in the way a lot of people go about doing things. Sad to say but many people don’t care to see you suffer not thinking about the impact that may have on a person or the true person that lies within them who may just be completely sorry for the crime they committed. Not saying they should not be punished for the crimes they commit but if the crime was accidental or minor I believe some sympathy should be shown.

But,ss living in a world like we do today I’m more than positive that would not happen. A side from the crime its self in my opinion I do feel the courts made the proper decision in regards to how Furman was treated in the court and given the maximum sentencing when a drunk driver can hit and kill someone and be sentenced community service hours. I say this because as citizens of the free country we should all be treated equal no matter race, social class, and prestige, whatever the case may be we should all be equally afforded the rights granted to us by the constitution.

That’s actually why so much destruction is going on now, in the world and with our judicial system. Simply because the people of America are not getting treated as equally as the people that may have more money or are of a higher class than they might be. To me discrimination all together will be a factor that will play a role in our society for years and years to come. Generations behind me are even dealing with it in their schools, at home, or even in place they should feel solitude at like church. Since that is all they know to do is judge and single out a person because of the different aspects of their lives that is what will continue.

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