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Thus the Court declared that, within the context of judicial deference to the legislature's power to set punishments, a fine would not offend the Eighth Amendment unless it were "grossly disproportional to the gravity of a defendant's offense". [E]ven if one stacked up all of Oates's punishments together—the fine, the whippings, the imprisonment, the pillorying, and the defrockment—their cumulative effect was less harsh as an absolute matter than some punishments considered acceptable at the time, such as drawing and quartering or burning at the stake. We can only interfere with such legislation and judicial action of the states enforcing it if the fines imposed are so grossly excessive as to amount to a deprivation of property without due process of law. [55][56] A few months later, Rummel challenged his sentence for ineffective assistance of counsel, his appeal was upheld, and as part of a plea bargain Rummel pled guilty to theft and was released for time served. However, corrupt judges found a way around this act by ordering fines too large for the people to pay. The eighth amendment serves the purpose of protecting of those who are innocent until proven guilty and to ensure that all persons are treated fairly in the criminal justice system. Finally, the English Bill of Rights (1689) held that "excessive bail ought not to be required.". In Waters-Pierce Oil Co. v. Texas, 212 U.S. 86 (1909), the Supreme Court held that excessive fines are those that are "so grossly excessive as to amount to a deprivation of property without due process of law". The first known execution within the United States occurred in the year 1607 in Jamestown. The majority in Coker stated that "death is indeed a disproportionate penalty for the crime of raping an adult woman." Virginia adopted this provision of the English Bill of Rights in the Virginia Declaration of Rights of 1776, and the Virginia convention that ratified the U.S. Constitution recommended in 1788 that this language also be included in the Constitution. Id. Traditionally, the length of a prison sentence was not subject to scrutiny under the Eighth Amendment, regardless of the crime for which the sentence was imposed. Thirty-three amendments to the United States Constitution have been proposed by the United States ... must be ratified by the required number of states within seven years from the date of its submission to the states in order to become part of the Constitution. This amendment was adopted as part of the Bill of Rights in 1791. [59][60], In Lockyer v. Andrade, 538 U.S. 63 (2003), the Court upheld a 50 years to life sentence with the possibility of parole imposed under California's three strikes law when the defendant was convicted of shoplifting videotapes worth a total of about $150. [21] In what was the first case in which the Supreme Court ruled that a fine violated the Excessive Fines Clause,[22] the Court held that it was "grossly disproportional" to take all the money Mr. Bajakajian had attempted to take out of the United States in violation of a federal law that required that he report an amount in excess of $10,000. He writes: "But in reality, the word “unusual” in the Eighth Amendment did not originally mean “rare”– it meant “contrary to long usage,” or “new.” A punishment is cruel and unusual if it is “cruel in light of long usage” – that is, cruel in comparison to longstanding prior practice or tradition. -the 8th amendment prohibits: "inhuman and barbarous" methods of execution that go beyond the extinguishment of life and cause "torture and lingering death" Methods of Capital Punishment gas chambers, firing squad, hanging, lethal injection, electrocution Congress has also extended the “cruel and unusual punishment” clause to the states as well, and all district courts must abide by this law. Since then, there has been a struggle among society and lawmakers attempting to decide if the death penalty falls under unusual and cruel punishment. Retrieved on January 30, 2010,  from http://www. In the late 1960s, “all but 10 states had laws authorizing capital punishment”. [26] The Supreme Court consequently determined in Ingraham that the Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause limits the criminal process in three ways: "[F]irst, it limits the kinds of punishment that can be imposed on those convicted of crimes, e.g., Estelle v. Gamble, supra; Trop v. Dulles, supra; second, it proscribes punishment grossly disproportionate to the severity of the crime, e.g., Weems v. United States, supra; and third, it imposes substantive limits on what can be made criminal and punished as such, e.g., Robinson v. California, supra. If the punishments inflicted on Oates were unacceptably cruel, this could only be because they were disproportionate to the crime of perjury. When he applied for a passport years later, he was denied, and his U.S. citizenship revoked. In Walton v. Arizona, 497 U.S. 639 (1990), the Court found that the phrase "especially heinous, cruel, or depraved" was not vague in a murder case, because the state supreme court had expounded on its meaning. The 8th Amendment includes three clauses. The Eighth Amendment (Amendment VIII) of the United States Constitution prohibits the federal government from imposing excessive bail, excessive fines, or cruel and unusual punishments.

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