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8th Amendment

"Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted."

 

In 1791, the eight amendment was added to the U.S. constitution as a means of providing protections for those who are accused of a crime. Yet, these protections should not end once one has been convicted of a crime. One of the most debated tenets of this amendment is the definition of "cruel and unusual punishments." How does one define what is or is not "cruel" or "unusual" punishment? 

While this seems like a simple question, the interpretation of what is cruel or unusual will always change based on the recipient of the punishment. Consider this. 

 

94% of Americans agree that animals raised for food deserve to live free from abuse and cruelty. Yet the majority of farmed livestock are raised in unacceptable conditions that do not align with consumers’ stated values. What types of conditions are we talking about? Intensive confinement where their movements are extremely inhibited. Extreme feeding practices. Regulated transport rules that demand rest stops every 28 hours. When cruel and abusive behavior takes place behind closed doors, it is easier for the public to turn a blind eye. 

Now imagine these same conditions are practiced in state correctional facilities. Would the same blind eye be turned on this situation? Even when the Constitution protects against it?

 

Ask yourself how you define cruel and unusual punishment and then ask yourself if that definition changes based on who is receiving that punishment. 

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