Not participating in excesses is one of the essential unwritten laws, it is likewise acknowledged by the Eighth Amendment – ‘Extreme bail shall not be needed, nor excessive fines enforced, nor harsh and uncommon punishments inflicted.’ However would the law makers follow this? Or is penalty simply a means to instil a sense of security in the minds of the usual guy? As a society, we ought to believe more in reform than in penalty.
What would interest you about the Eighth Amendment?:
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.
Defining the cruel and unusual punishment aspect under the eighth amendment that prohibits unnecessarily cruel punishments for federal crimes. Inflicting pain on the 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.
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.
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.
Evolution of Society:
Like every little thing on the planet, constitution evolves. It is exactly what helps the society evolve into an all-inclusive community. There have been more modifications to the constitution, all proclaimed by the eighth amendment. The Eighth Change has introduced a refutation of excess – be it in punishment or bail – and hence assisted realize that errors require to be evaluated in a well balanced manner, without holding bias. Developing standards of decency have been developed due to this change.
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.