How Criminal Justice Is Tied to the Eighth Amendment

How Criminal Justice Is Tied to the Eighth Amendment

( – The Eighth Amendment may be the amendment that offers US citizens the most physical protection from the government. The problem with this amendment is that it is open to so much interpretation. Even today, the specifics aren’t exactly clear.

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

Bail Bonds

When people are arrested they can request release under a bail bond. It will either be a cash bond or a collateral bond. A cash bond means the full amount is due before release, while a collateral bond allows payment of a percentage of the bond while assets secure the remainder as collateral. Should the accused not show up to court, the bench issues a warrant, and the accused may forfeit the bond, where it may have otherwise been returned.

The Eighth Amendment attempts to level the playing field so that the bail fits the crime, and sometimes, judges take into consideration the assets and income of the accused. This prevents things like a $50 theft from generating a $1 million bond.


The idea of no excessive fines being imposed allows for equal treatment between those who are well off and those who aren’t. Fines are normally set based on the loss in the crime and the cost of due process and all it entails. Those who are convicted may end up paying court fees, probation fines, and any other applicable fines to fit the crime.

Cruel and Unusual Punishment

Today, in the United States, torture is illegal because of the Eighth Amendment. Medieval tactics like the rack, thumb screws, the iron maiden and many more are things of the past. But as society evolves, so does the idea of cruel and unusual punishment. This can be seen in modern times with the question of things like solitary confinement, the death penalty, and sentences for those with a mental illness, to name a few.

The Eighth Amendment would seem to offer Americans the most physical protection, but it also applies to mental and financial punishments. Jailers and other authorities cannot beat prisoners, but they are not allowed to torture them in other ways, either. The specifics of where exactly that line is drawn will most likely continue to change as society evolves.

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