Some of those being the Supreme Court ruling against racial discrimination in jury selection, the provision of protection against coerced confessions, and those people that had religious scruples against capital punishment could not be excluded from capital juries (Rankin, 196). This paper will discuss the sociological struggles that have occurred over this method of punishment.
Its interesting to note that with all the interest that there in the death penalty, there are no statistical studies that have isolated the social and political forces that may account for the legality or illegality of this punishment. Studies do, however show that the death penalty is more often used in areas where the largest part of the population is black or Hispanic. No other contemporary punishment in this world has been more severe, however, when one searches the literature there are few good articles on the social and political influences that affect the legality of this punishment. Many of the original case studies were done in the 1990s (Ellis, 338).
If we focus on the last 25 years as the time of debate, we do find many changes. There was actually a monumental decision in 1972 by the US Supreme Court, in which they determined that the death penalty statutes in the United States were unconstitutional. This was determined in the Furman versus Georgia case. At that time there were 630 inmates awaiting death. All of those inmates were transferred to a life sentence. However in Greg versus Georgia the Supreme Court again leaned towards the death penalty. At that time there were 3500 men and 50 women, including, 65 juveniles whose capital offenses predated their 18th birthdays sitting on death row in this country. Another 550 death row inmates had been executed. There are of course arguments for and against this happening at all, especially when related to children. (Radelet & Borg, 42).
Unfortunately, public opinion in the United States and the rest of