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NCJ Number: 50026 Find in a Library
Title: DISINTERMENT OF AN ANCIENT LAW - AN EYE FOR AN EYE, NO DEATH FOR RAPE
Journal: BROOKLYN LAW REVIEW  Volume:44  Issue:3  Dated:(SPRING 1978)  Pages:622-636
Author(s): G PARNASS
Corporate Author: Brooklyn Law School
United States of America
Date Published: 1978
Page Count: 15
Sponsoring Agency: Brooklyn Law School
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: THE U.S. SUPREME COURT DECISION STRIKING DOWN THE DEATH PENALTY FOR RAPE (COKER VS. GEORGIA, 1977) IS EXAMINED; CONSIDERATION IS GIVEN TO WHETHER THE DEATH PENALTY IS CRUEL AND UNUSUAL PUNISHMENT IN ALL RAPE CASE.
Abstract: THE FACTS OF THE COKER CASE ARE REVIEWED. COKER, A HABITUAL CRIMINAL, ESCAPED FROM PRISON AND DURING HIS PERIOD OF FREEDOM COMMITTED SEVERAL FELONIES AND RAPED AN ADULT WOMAN. HE WAS CONVICTED OF THE RAPE. UNDER A GEORGIA STATUTE IN FORCE AT THE TIME, THE TRIAL COURT HAD THE AUTHORITY TO CALL A SECOND TRIAL TO DETERMINE WHETHER THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE RAPE WERE SEVERE ENOUGH TO WARRANT THE DEATH PENALTY. COKER WAS CONDEMNED TO DEATH. THE CASE WAS APPEALED, ULTIMATELY TO THE SUPREME COURT, WHICH HELD THAT NEITHER PAST CRIMINAL RECORD NOR PUBLIC OPINION COULD BE CONSIDERED IN SUCH CASES AND THAT THE DEATH PENALTY WAS OUT OF PROPORTION TO THE OFFENSE. THE DECISION IS LAUDED IN THIS PARTICULAR CASE. HOWEVER, THE QUESTION OF AN APPROPRIATE PENALTY FOR CASES IN WHICH THE VICTIM HAD BEEN SUBJECTED TO DEPRAVITY AND TORTURE IS LEFT UNANSWERED. IT IS SUGGESTED THAT SUCH A CASE COULD BE DISTINGUISHED FROM COKER BY LIMITING THE APPLICATION OF COKER TO ITS FACTS, WHICH DID NOT INCLUDE VILE OR INHUMANE TREATMENT. CHIEF JUSTICE BURGER, IN HIS DISSENT, POINTED OUT THE HARM A REPEATED RAPIST COULD DO TO SOCIETY AND ALSO COMMENTED ON THE GRIEVOUS PSYCHOLOGICAL AND PERSONAL TRAUMA THE RAPE VICTIM SUFFERS. JUSTICE POWELL AGREED TO THE DECISION ONLY AS IT APPLIED TO THE FACTS OF THE COKER CASE. IT IS SUGGESTED THAT FURTHER DECISIONS WILL BE NEEDED TO CLARIFY ALL ASPECTS OF THE ISSUE OF THE DEATH PENALTY FOR RAPE. (GLR)
Index Term(s): Capital punishment; Cruel and unusual punishment; Georgia (USA); Habitual offenders; Judicial decisions; Rape; US Supreme Court
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http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=50026

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