Eight Amendment.docx - Connor McCarthy COR202 Eighth Amendment The Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits the infliction of

Eight Amendment.docx - Connor McCarthy COR202 Eighth...

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Connor McCarthy COR202 02/02/2020 Eighth Amendment The Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits the infliction of “cruel and unusual punishment.” This interdiction has an explicitly normative cast, limiting on moral grounds what the state may do to convicted criminal offenders as punishment. Although the Clause prohibits cruel and unusual punishment, its normative force derives chiefly from its use of the word cruel. This is evident from the various principles the Supreme Court has identified for guiding judicial analyses of the Eighth Amendment. The prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment has been held to forbid punishments that are “grossly disproportionate” to the crime that are “totally without penological justification” that “involve the unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain” and that are inconsistent with “evolving standards of decency.” In its most basic sense, to be cruel is to inflict unjustified suffering, and each of these principles may be read as condemning those criminal punishments that do just that. To the extent that the Supreme Court has considered what makes a punishment cruel, it has done so primarily in assessing criminal sanctions. In some cases, the Court has found the use of certain penalties to be per se unconstitutional, something the state may never do to anyone as punishment.10
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