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The Death Penalty in the United States: To What Extent are Incremental Constitutional Restrictions a

This article is a study of the death penalty in the United States of America post-1976. Specifically, this article analyses the extent to which abolition is foreseeable by reference to incremental constitutional restrictions and the evolving standards of decency doctrine. Section I is an analysis of the incremental constitutional restrictions enforced by the Supreme Court in a series of case law, which have resulted in the narrowing administration of the death penalty and which have contributed to the requirement of consistency and fairness. Reconciliation of these requirements is given a broad focus in the Section II, which is a thorough analysis of Justice Blackmun’s dictum in Callins v Collins. Lastly, Section III focuses on the retention of alternative methods of execution and how they could provide a ‘back up’ for the death penalty in light of the problems encompassing the lethal injection.

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