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Capital Punishment: Legal Aspects

State Legislative Innovations, Early Constitutional Intervention, Constitutional Abolition In Furman V. Georgia, Post-furman Constitutional Regulation

Until the twentieth century, the law of capital punishment in the United States was almost entirely in the hands of individual states. State legislatures could decide whether to have capital statutes at all, what crimes to render eligible for capital punishment, what procedures to follow in capital trials, and what methods of execution to use. The federal legislature—Congress—also exercised similar policy discretion over the use of capital punishment for federal crimes. However, criminal law has always been primarily the province of state as opposed to federal power, and the vast majority of American executions have been conducted by states rather than by the federal government.

CAROL S. STEIKER

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationCrime and Criminal Law