The issues of cruelty, excessive fines, and unusual punishment are tackled in the 8th amendment of the Constitution that happened to be passed in 25th September, 1798 by the Congress. The amendment was then ratified on the 15th of December, 1791. As written in the Bill of Rights, the amendment states, Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted (Spanos, 2012). The bill thereby goes through to the first 10 amendments within the Bill of Rights. However, the amendment came into existence due to the argument of scholars and judges that the definition of the Constitution needed re-coining just like the societal values need to be changed as well (Oppenheim, 2017).
Before the year 1976, the U.S Supreme Court rarely addressed the issue and scope of the 8th Amendment with regards to the protection it offers inmates and conditions of prison in the country. By then, cases concerning the 8th Amendment got certiorari only when crimes and sentences were disproportionate (Oppenheim, 2017).
Modern Safeguards Application in Criminal Procedures
After about 25 years; with regards to the Furman Court's decision, there have been several bodies advocating for the abolishment of death penalties. The protests are based on the principles of human rights including the right get protected from inhuman, cruel, and punishment that are degrading. The Sentiments are available in the UN Bill of Rights named as the UN Universal Human Rights Declaration. Currently, the death penalty system in U.S. is complex and made up of several layers.
Currently, it is the legislature of the country that structures the system including the determination of factors like having the jury of judges impose sentences. The legislature also determines the manner in which the counsel for defense gets assigned to defendants who are indigent and also the mitigating factors that ought to be considered in sentencing cases. It is therefore, the prosecutor who makes decisions on whether to have a crime prosecuted as a capital offense or not. In a case where the jury makes decision of guilt or innocence, they also decide to have death penalties imposed or not (Oppenheim, 2017).
Oppenheim, S. (2017). CAPITAL PUNISHMENT IN THE UNITED STATES. Wcl.american.edu. Retrieved 12 June 2017, from https://www.wcl.american.edu/hrbrief/spring98/html/death.html
Spanos, A. (2012). THE EIGHTH AMENDMENT AND NUTRALOAF: A RECIPE FOR DISASTER. Retrieved 12 June 2017, from http://jchlp.law.edu/res/docs/7-Spanos-1-20.pdf
Burney, N. (2017). Eighth Amendment - The Criminal Lawyer - Commentary on Law and Policy. Burneylawfirm.com. Retrieved 12 June 2017, from http://burneylawfirm.com/blog/category/eighth-amendment/
Garbus, M. (2017). Cruel and usual punishment in jails and prisons. latimes.com. Retrieved 12 June 2017, from http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-garbus-prison-cruel-and-unusual-20140930-story.htm
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