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Search GovSpot or Google |   Great Must-See sites   |   Read Articles and Lists | Find answers | Did you know?  
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Death Penalty

In Brief

In 1972 the Supreme Court struck down the death penalty in Furman v. Georgia, only to reinstate it in the 1976 Gregg v. Georgia decision. Since then the fiery debates over capital punishment have been as hot as ever.

In 2009, 52 people were executed in 11 states, according to the Bureau of Justice statistics. That number is 15 more than the previous year.




Advocates of the death penalty argue that capital punishment acts as a deterrent to potential criminals, and it provides justice to the victims' families. On the other hand, opponents claim that it violates the "cruel and unusual punishment" doctrine of the Constitution. They point to numerous examples of death row inmates who were later freed based on new evidence.

While opponents of capital punishment are vocal, a majority of Americans support the death penalty. A 2009 Gallup poll showed that 65 percent of Americans were in favor of the death penalty and 31 percent were against it. However, when asked to choose between the death penalty or life imprisonment for offenders, votes were split. 47 percent of people chose the death penalty, while 48 percent chose life imprisonment. Again, 5 percent had no opinion. These results show very little difference from statistics spanning the past six years.

For more information on the death penalty debate, visit the Web sites below.

Death Penalty Resources

  • Death Penalty Curriculum
    Read pro and con arguments, access data on capital punishment for every state and learn about methods of execution.

  • The Clark County Prosecutor's Death Penalty Links
    An enormous collection of links to death penalty sites that cover all angles of the debate.

  • Survey of the Federal Death Penalty System
    Like some states, the federal government can sentence convicted criminals to death. This report on the federal death penalty system from 1988 to 2000 provides statistics on the racial, ethnic and geographical backgrounds of defendants and victims.

Opponents of Death Penalty

Supporters of Death Penalty

  • Justice For All
    A victims' rights organization based in Texas, this group supports the death penalty as a means of protecting citizens and property.

  • Pro-Death Penalty
    A collection of pro-death penalty web sites along with essays and articles on capital punishment.
Find Out Where Politicians Stand on Issues

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