Under the Eighth Amendment, the death penalty is in and of itself not considered cruel and unusual punishment. Although the death penalty is frequently attacked for the numerous death row exonerations (more than 150 in the United States alone), lack of evidence supporting the idea that the death penalty deters crime, and marginalized groups being more likely to receive this sentencing, the death penalty still remains on solid constitutional ground. In fact, the arguments that pose the biggest threat to the constitutionality of the death penalty tend to revolve around the potential risk of substantial pain while executing an offender, or the type of offender that can or cannot be executed. One argument that has not received as much traction, but rests on similar logic to those that have, revolves around the constitutionality of sitting on death row. Specifically, the argument that this thesis will address is whether the time spent on death row, not the execution itself, violates the Eighth Amendment? This question will be addressed through three-parts: I. Death Penalty in Modern U.S. Jurisprudence, II. Overlooked Problematic Effects of Death Row and III. Time on Death Row as a Possible Constitutional Violation. Part I. reviews the literature of death penalty jurisprudence and is divided into three smaller parts. Part II. presents an analysis of death row and the effects it has on inmates. Part III. analyzes connections between inmates' mental health and their competency.

Thesis Completion




Thesis Chair/Advisor

Patrick, Carlton


Bachelor of Science (B.S.)


College of Community Innovation and Education


Legal Studies

Degree Program

Legal Studies



Access Status

Open Access

Release Date


Included in

Legal Studies Commons