On June 29, 1972, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty was unconstitutional. By a narrow margin, the justices said that executing a criminal was “cruel and unusual punishment,” and violated the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Just four years later, the court reinstated the death penalty under a “model of guided discretion.”Today, use of the death penalty is decided upon by individual states. Many states do not use the death penalty at all, including New Mexico, North Dakota, and Maine. Since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, Texas, Oklahoma, and Virginia have used it the most often.As of 2013, the United States is one of just 58 nations that use capital punishment. The nations that use the death penalty most frequently are China, Iran, and Saudi Arabia.
Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry amendment Noun
change made to a law or set of laws.
system of ideas and general laws that guide a nation, state, or other organization.
person convicted of a crime.
death penalty Noun
punishment by execution. Also called capital punishment.
thoughtful judgement or wisdom.
to put to death by order of the law or in a well-planned manner.
amount allowed or available beyond what is necessary.
penalty inflicted for a crime or offense.
to restore or put a position or policy back in place.
Supreme Court Noun
highest judicial authority on issues of national or constitutional importance in the U.S.
against the laws of the United States Constitution.
to break a rule.