8th Amendment - Imposing Excessive
and Cruel Punishment
8th Amendment Simplified Summary
Limitations on Punishments and Bail
Cause and Reason for the 8th Amendment
8th Amendment Meaning, Explanation and Summary
8th Amendment: Meaning of the Words of the Amendment
8th Amendment"Excessive bail shall not be required..."
Meaning: The eighth amendment protects American citizens that have been found guilty of crimes from unfair punishments. The intention is that the punishment must fit the crime.
Bail: The term 'Bail' refers to the amount of money that an accused person must present as collateral, guaranteeing their appearance at court. If the person failed to attend court then the bail paid would become forfeit.
The excessive bail clause limits the power of the courts of set bail - it must be deemed reasonable in relation to the crime, taking into account the severity of the crime and the ability of the defendant to pay the amount set for bail.
8th Amendment"...nor excessive fines imposed..."
Meaning: Should a person be found guilty, any fine imposed by the court must be deemed reasonable.
8th Amendment"...nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted. "
Meaning: Once again the punishment should fit the crime.
The intention of this clause was to prevent a court ordering harsh and vindictive forms of chastisement.
This had happened in England in 1681 to a man called Titus Oates. Titus Oates had been found innocent of a crime, and then retried, and found guilty of perjury by the infamous Judge Jefferies. He was sentenced to life imprisonment, and to be "whipped through the streets of London five days a year for the remainder of his life." The whippings were so terrible that many believed that the aim was to kill Titus Oates.
Titus Oates survived and was released after 3 years. His punishment was deemed to be "cruel and illegal". The case prompted the English Parliament to enact the cruel and unusual provision in the English Bill of Rights.
The 8th Amendment ensured a similar clause was included in the American Bill of Rights.
Meaning of the Words of the Eighth Amendment
8th Amendment Text - The Eighth Amendment
8th Amendment Text
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
Who wrote the 8th Amendment of the Constitution?
President George Washington Video