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In Furman v. Georgia (1972), the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the capital convictions of Jackson Furman and other African American inmates sentenced to death, holding that the death penalty could not be applied lawfully given the strong influence of racial bias and other arbitrary factors (e.g. gender and geography) in its application. Four years later in Gregg v. Georgia (1976), the Court affirmed the death sentence of convicted murder and armed robber Tony Gregg, holding that states can impose the death penalty upon meeting conditions of fairness and consistency. In studying the success of states in meeting these conditions, scholars such as John J. Donohue and Jennifer Eberhardt have found that despite improvements in the imposition of the death penalty to facilitate consistency and fairness, the race of the defendant and the victim continues to strongly influence capital convictions. In accordance with these and many other studies on racial bias in the administration of the death penalty, the death penalty cannot be applied legally in modern times.
Heasley, Joseph, "Revisiting Gregg v. Georgia: Racial Bias and the Legality of the Death Penalty" (2019). American Studies Summer Fellows. 1.
Available to Ursinus community only.
Presented during the 21st Annual Summer Fellows Symposium, July 19, 2019 at Ursinus College.