Essay on The Eighth Amendment

Essay on The Eighth Amendment

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The 8th Amendment to the Constitution of the United

States prohibits cruel and unusual punishment, as well

as the setting of excessive bail or the imposition of

excessive fines. However, it has also been deemed

unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of the United

States (according to the Eighth Amendment)to inflict

physical damage on students in a school environment for

the purpose of discipline in most circumstances.

     The 8th Amendment stipulates that bail shall not be

excessive. This is unclear as to whether or not there

is a constitutional right to bail, or only prohibits

excessive bail, if it is to be granted. The Supreme

Court has never directly addressed this interpretation

problem, because federal law has always guaranteed that

privilege in all non-capital cases (Compton’s).

     Bail furthers the presumption of innocence until

guilt is absolutely proven, beyond the shadow of a

doubt. If it weren’t for bail, the accused suspect

would virtually be serving a sentence for a crime he or

she has not been convicted of committing. Excessive

bail has the same effect. The idea behind bail is to

make sure the accused is present during the trial. If

one’s bail is , in fact, excessive, the amount is set

higher than is reasonable. Logically, bail is usually

not set for an amount greater than the maximum monetary

sentence for the crime with which the defendant is being

charged.(Draper 80)

     The most widely known aspect of the eighth

amendment is the fact that it prohibits cruel and

unusual punishment. The stand for “cruel and unusual”

fluctuates, because it all is dependent upon social

issues, standards, and personal beliefs. However, there

are many generalizations that remain very clear, no

matter what the situation. Cruel and unusual punishment

is perceived as punishment that causes “an unnecessary

and wanton infliction of pain”. Punishments that have

been declared entirely unconstitutional without question

by the US Supreme Court include torture and loss of

citizenship. (Garraty 155) This interpretation is

demonstrated by the Supreme Court’s rulings in the case

of Gregg vs. Georgia, in 1976. In this case the court

upheld the constitutionality of the death penalt...


... middle of paper ...


...ations when deciding upon the constitutionality

of all questionable penalties (83).

      The Eighth Amendment (as it has been interpreted

by the US Supreme Court) protects Americans from cruel

and unusual punishment, excessive bails and fines, and

unnecessary physical chastisement in schools. However,

whether a sentence is cruel and unusual or a fine is

excessive continually remains to be determined by the

Supreme Court.





Works Cited      



Bernstein, Richard, and Jerome Agel. Amending America.

     New York: Random House, Inc, 1993.

Compton’s Interactive Encyclopedia. New York: Compton’s

     NewMedia, Inc., 1995.

Draper, Thomas. Human Rights. New York: The H. W.

     Wilson Company, 1982.

Garraty, John A. Quarrels That Have Shaped the

     Constitution. New York: Harper & Row, 1987.

Sundquist, James L. Constitutional Reform and Effective

     Government. Washington, DC: The Brookings

     Institution, 1986.

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