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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 77593 Add to Shopping cart Find in a Library
Title: Indiana Death Penalty - An Exercise in Constitutional Futility
Journal: Valparaiso University Law Review  Volume:15  Issue:2  Dated:(Winter 1981)  Pages:409-451
Author(s): E N Chipman
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 43
Sponsoring Agency: National Institute of Justice/
Rockville, MD 20849
Sale Source: National Institute of Justice/
NCJRS paper reproduction
Box 6000, Dept F
Rockville, MD 20849
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article points out the two major defects in the Indiana death penalty statute through analysis of major death penalty cases of recent years; recommendations are made as to how to correct the defects.
Abstract: All of the major death penalty cases have been decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in the last 13 years. These decisions appear to be based upon differing constitutional theories. Analysis reveals that the States may inflict death as a penal sanction only if the relevant statutory schemes fulfill basic constitutional requirements. These requirements are in turn derived from the various constitutional theories relied upon by the Court. There are three basic theories and requirements to be met in order to develop a valid death penalty: the defendant's fifth and sixth amendment rights must be considered in the statutory scheme, statutory guidelines must focus on the particular nature of the offense and the specific characteristics of the defendant, and both the statute and the State judiciary must provide meaningful appellate review to ensure strict compliance with the first two requirements. Using this three- requirement approach, an examination of the Indiana death penalty discloses significant defects. The statutory scheme and the Indiana judiciary have failed to provide a system that ensures meaningful appellate review. This shortcoming occurs at two levels: the trial court and the Indiana Supreme Court. Lack of meaningful appellate review could be remedied in one of two ways. The State supreme court could develop procedures requiring Indiana trial courts to make an accurate record and transcript of the decisionmaking process involved in death penalty imposition. In the alternative, the Indiana Supreme Court could hold the Indiana death penalty unconstitutional for its failure to provide proper review. The second and most significant deficiency in the death penalty is the power it grants to an Indiana prosecutor. Death is not an available sentencing option unless the prosecutor specifically requests it. This defect can only be eliminated by redefining the penalties for murder. The article includes 206 footnotes. (Author abstract modified)
Index Term(s): Capital punishment; Constitutional Rights/Civil Liberties; Cruel and unusual punishment; Indiana; Judicial decisions; Law reform; State laws; US Supreme Court
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