On this day: October 4

POSTED: 05:01 PM PDT Oct 03, 2012    UPDATED: 11:00 PM PDT Oct 03, 2013 

Work begins on Mount Rushmore, Sputnik is launched into space, the pope visits America for the first time, Janis Joplin is found dead of an overdose, all on this day.

OTD October 4 - death penalty
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Duncan Lock/Wikimedia Commons

1976: The U.S. Supreme Court lifts the 1972 ban on the death penalty for convicted murderers. A 1972 ruling by the court had voided states' death penalty statutes because they could result in arbitrary sentencing, making them "cruel and unusual" punishment. After states passed new laws to deal with the issue, through bifurcated trials featuring separate deliberations for the guilt and penalty phases as well as other changes, the Supreme Court ruled that the new laws weren't unconstitutional.

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