Grawemeyer Colloquium Papers


Capital punishment is a long-debated issue in United States public policy, with arguments ranging from complete abolition of the penalty to continuing the punishment in states that wish to do so. Regardless of evolving public opinion, numerous landmark Supreme Court cases have ruled capital punishment as constitutional under the Eighth Amendment, which outlaws cruel and unusual punishment. In Furman v. Georgia (1972), the court ruled in a 5-4 decision that certain applications of the death penalty were unconstitutional, vacating the current processes of capital punishment. After this decision, Georgia then adopted the bifurcated trial system to attempt to practice capital punishment in a constitutional manner. Although later widely adopted by states that practice capital punishment, this trial system has drastically increased the time it takes from sentencing to execution, therefore raising another question of constitutionality.

That being said, if capital punishment is to persist in the United States, substantial reform efforts need to be undertaken to preserve the Supreme Court’s decisions, specifically through creating a separate state court of appeals division dedicated to reviewing capital cases.

Colloquium Guidelines FINAL.pdf (122 kB)
Colloquium Guidelines FINAL.pdf