The Eighth Amendment

Topics: Death Penalty, Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution, Crime Pages: 2 (819 words) Published: February 11, 2010
The eighth amendment is defined as “excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted (Lectlaw, 2010). This amendment was adopted as part of the Bill of Rights in 1791. The eighth amendment serves the purpose of protection of those who are innocent until proven guilty and to ensure that all persons are treated fairly in the criminal justice system. Defendants who are not released on bail are being denied the opportunity to prepare their defense. Also, denying bail or having excessive bail imprisons the defendant without being properly convicted. There are cases, however, where bail must be denied or set excessively high. If an unconvicted defendant is feared to be a danger to the community or a flight risk, the constitution permits the denial of bail (FindLaw, 2010). The “no excessive fines clause of the eighth amendment presides fines directly imposed by, and payable to the government and in civil forfeiture cases” (Onecle, 2009). The term “excessive” still has not been defined by the United States court system. Asset forfeiture, however, has become a key element in the war on drugs as the government has the power to seize property of persons that have not yet been convicted of a crime (Hornberger, 2005). The law “there shall not be cruel and unusual punishment” under the eighth amendment means that society will deem what is cruel and unusual. The standards of society transform over time as citizens “do better when they know better”. Medevil practices such as cutting off the hand of a theif are obviously unacceptable forms of punishment in today’s modern society. While the death penalty is used in some states for those who commit the most heinous of crimes, not all states impose such a severe sentence. The first known execution within the United States occurred in the year 1607 in Jamestown. Captain George Kendall was shot to death by a firing squad for allegedly spying against the British...
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