Cruel and Unusual Punishment: A Reconsideration of the Lackey Claim


Death is an exceptional punishment. No punishment is more severe or more final. Though legislators have increasingly been imposing mandatory sentences for criminal offenses, the Constitution forbids a mandatory death penalty. Despite its exceptional character, the number of people who have been condemned to die has grown steadily in the past twenty-five years. As of January 1, 2002, there were 3711 people awaiting execution in the United States. If the government revoked the due process rights of condemned inmates today, and began executing them at a rate of one per day, it would take over ten years to kill them all.

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