5 Reasons to Understand the Eighth Amendment Punishment
Not engaging in excesses is one of the fundamental laws of the land, it is also recognised by the Eighth Amendment – ‘Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.’ But would the law makers abide by this? Or is punishment just a way to instil a sense of security in the minds of the common man? As a society, we ought to believe more in reform than in punishment. What would interest you about the Eighth Amendment?: 1. Reformation: The thinking behind punishment for a crime is to make the individual realise the gravity of his mistake and have him repent for the same. Down the years that has translated into handing out harsh punishments to individuals whether or not they deserve them or without giving a thought to the long term effect it would have on the person. Punishment has a way of searing into a person’s consciousness and instilling fear where there should be positivity and goodness. This may instil momentary fear in the criminal or accused’s mind, but this does not transform into permanent restoration. The individual might even be more likely to commit a crime just so that he/she can extract revenge on the system that treated him/her so harshly. 2. Unusual Punishment: Defining the cruel and unusual punishment aspect under the eighth amendment that prohibits unnecessarily cruel punishments for federal crimes. Inflicting pain on the Page 1 of 3
accused is an uncalled for measure that can be avoided until the crime is proved and punished. Cruelty of any measure restricts the accused’s will to improve and change. 3. Excessive bail: Bail is a method by which the accused stands to be at an advantage as he gets time to plead his/her case, prepare it and prepare themselves for the upcoming ordeal. But this is the process which is most abused. Bail amount and conditions are excessively unfair to the accused and seem to be made only to make them suffer. When fixing the amount of bail for a particular defendant the court considers (1) the seriousness of the offence (2) intensity of evidence against the accused (3) extent of ties to the community (4) ability to pay a certain amount as fine (5) trustworthiness of the accused. 4. Fines: Fines need to be in accordance with the intensity and impact of the crime committed. Imposing fines that take away the defendant’s property and assets does not strengthen the judicial system, in fact it makes the people’s faith weaker. 5. Evolution of Society: Like everything in the world, constitution evolves. It is what helps the society evolve into an all-inclusive community. There have been further changes to the constitution, all heralded by the eighth amendment. The Eighth Amendment has introduced a refutation of excess – be it in punishment or bail – and thus helped realize that mistakes need to be evaluated in a balanced manner, without holding prejudices. Evolving standards of decency have been established due to this amendment. The Eighth Amendment allows for an overall progress of the society in a stable manner. The ban on enforcing unusually harsh punishments is a special sanction. Sources: 1. http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Eighth+Amendment 2. http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/conlaw/cruelunusual.html 3. http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Cruel+and+Unusual+Punishment 4. http://nationalparalegal.edu/conlawcrimproc_public/RightsAtTrial/ProtectFromCruelPunish. asp Page 2 of 3
Page 3 of 3
Why the eighth amendment is important and what/why you should know about it.