Entries tagged with “David Oshinsky

Facts & Research

History of the Death Penalty


May 15, 2024

I Just Wanted…to Stay Alive”: Who was William Henry Furman, the Prisoner at the Center of a Historic Legal Decision?

Furman v. Georgia was one of the most mon­u­men­tal cas­es in American legal his­to­ry: the 1972 deci­sion over­turned every state death penal­ty statute in the coun­try and spared the lives of near­ly six hun­dred peo­ple sen­tenced to die. But the lead peti­tion­er, William Henry Furman, was lit­tle aware of his impact. Poor, Black, men­tal­ly ill, and phys­i­cal­ly and intel­lec­tu­al­ly dis­abled, he was sen­tenced to death for the killing of a home­own­er dur­ing a botched rob­bery, which he main­tains was…