HGov: Eighth Amendment Case Study


Amendment 8

The Eighth Amendment protects against excessive bail or fines and forbids cruel or unusual punishment. Bail is money given over to the court in exchange for a suspect’s release until his or her trial begins.

Most of the legal challenges to this amendment have involved the prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment. In Furman v. Georgia, the Court focused on the death penalty. It concluded that capital punishment was cruel and unusual when it was inconsistently and unequally applied from one case to another. Too often people convicted of a capital crime received very different penalties. One might be sentenced to life in prison while the other was condemned to death. The Court’s decision put a sudden halt to all executions in the United States.

In Gregg v. Georgia, the Court concluded that the death penalty was constitutional under the new laws. As a result, capital punishment became a sentencing option in most states.


Homework:
1) Read Chapter 14 pp.445-474
2) Read Chapter 15 pp.481-511

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