Fordham Law Review
death penalty, capital punishment, guilt and punishment
The punishment of death is supposed to be reserved for those defendants who commit the most grievous murders and deserve the most extreme punishment. It is constitutionally insufficient to conclude that because a defendant is guilty of committing murder, death is the only deserved punishment. The judgment that a defendant is one of the few who will be sentenced to death requires an inquiry that looks beyond the defendant's guilt to consider whether the defendant is worthy of a death sentence. This article argues that the distinction between a defendant's guilt and deathworthiness is so often obscured that defendants who are not worthy of the death penalty are frequently sentenced to die in violation of the Eighth Amendment.
Phyllis L. Crocker, Concepts of Culpability and Deathworthiness: Differentiating Between Guilt and Punishment in Death Penalty Cases, 66 Fordham Law Review 21 (1997)