It is rare that you hear individuals going around quoting information from the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Everyone seems informed about the First and its guarantee of “freedom of speech.” And with the current political climate, the Second Amendment has experienced a resurgence in popularity with many citizen’s concern over their “right to bear arms.”
The Eighth Amendment, though, states that judges and the federal government may not impose excessive bail upon a person who is incarcerated, nor submit them to torture nor cruel and unusual punishment. If that sounds foreign, or leaves you still confused, you may want to read through these four other things you might not know about amendment number eight.
1. No Bail At All Isn’t Excessive
The Eighth Amendment is in place to give the incarcerated the ability to collect enough funds in order to release them from jail through the exchange of collateral. This doesn’t mean, though, that a judge has to grant bail to everyone. If a judge sees an individual as untrustworthy or a flight risk, he or she has the ability to eliminate the possibility of bail entirely.
2. Everyone Has a Different Definition of “Excessive”
While this amendment is universally agreed upon by members of the federal government, it is largely up to interpretation by those with the responsibility of setting bail. Bail amounts for small crimes can be in amounts anywhere from one to ten thousand dollars, yet the highest bail amount ever set in the United States was $100 million for white-collar criminal Raj Rajaratnam.
But don’t worry – he quickly secured the cash and was released shortly thereafter.
3. Societal View Has Changed on Cruel and Unusual
When the Bill of Rights was first written, it was commonplace for individuals to receive floggings for the crimes they committed in society. No one during this time believed that type of punishment to be cruel and unusual – that description was saved for the mutilation of a corpse.
In modern times, though, a flogging, or any other type of corporal punishment, would be seen as a cruel and unusual act that violates our natural rights as citizens of the United States. Because of this change in societal views, the Eighth Amendment has had to be reviewed and revisited countless times over the course of its existence.
4. It is Still Debated Today
Discussions about the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution are common even to this day because of the existence of capital punishment. Proponents of capital punishment believe that the systems of execution in place today allow for a painless death, and therefore avoid the label of cruel and unusual. Those against the death penalty proclaim that taking the life of another human being is by its nature cruel and unusual, and continuously fight for this practice to be banned in accordance to its violation of the Eighth Amendment.
What It Means For You
While this trivia about the Eighth Amendment might simply be unknown facts, the truth is that this important part of the Bill of Rights is in place to allow you to post bail and wait for a trial like all other citizens of the United States.