Posted: August 7th, 2013
The eighth amendment affirms, “Excessive bail shall not be obligatory, nor extreme penalties compulsory, nor cruel and atypical sentences inflicted.” The amendment protects the suspected offenders. It ensures that the courts and the correctional facilities and centers do not exploit their power on the offenders and suspected offenders. Courts can take the opportunity of exploiting a wealthy person by imposing excessive bail, so that the person is released. The courts may also impose excessive fines, as a way of punishing the offenders. The bill considers the rights of offenders while they are in correctional facilities, and it ensures that they do not receive cruel and unusual punishments. Excessive bail and fines can be comprised of a callous and abnormal sentence on the side of the offender. On the other hand, the offenders can receive cruel and unusual punishments while in prison.
The amount of bail offered should be such that the person is able to pay. Bail is important, as it enables the accused person to get out of custody and prepare for trial. Although the bail money is reimbursed once the accused shows up for trial, the amount can be too much for the accused person to afford in the first place. Failure to pay the bail amount means that the person has to stay in jail until the trial date. This denies the person the freedom and time needed to gather evidence for his or her case. This is not fair to the accused, whose innocent is guaranteed in the constitution, until the judge or jury has declared the person guilty. The amount set as bail should be such that the accused person feels the pain of losing the money if he or she is absent for the trial without a valid reason. If the bail amount is little, the accused person can choose to abscond before the trial date. The courts have to find a balance, between the two extremes when setting the bail. This requires the courts to have the accused person’s financial information.
Courts should ensure that the punishment given to the offenders is not cruel or inhumane. The punishment should be in proportion to the crime committed. There has been controversy to the exact meaning of a “cruel and unusual” sentence, and different sectors in the criminal justice system seem to have varied opinions on the issue. Reforms in the corrections institutions have ensured that prisoners receive their human rights while at the same time ensured that they are punished for the crimes they have committed. While ensuring human rights is important, the correctional facilities should ensure that they do not treat the offenders in a manner that they will forget their reason for incarceration.
Prisoners should not be so comfortable while in prison, that they forget their reason for being there in the first place. Prisons and other correctional facilities should be places for rehabilitation. They should provide an environment where the offender think over the crimes they have committed, as they look forward to their release. They should provide training and services aimed at reforming and transforming the prisoners to be productive members of the society. Many people criticize the death penalty as a form of unkind and atypical sentence. If the courts should issue punishments that are in relation to the crimes committed, then the death penalty does not constitute an unkind and atypical sentence for prisoners accused of taking another person’s life. The death penalty may seem an easy route for people looking for a way out of punishment, since they do not have to suffer for a long time. Some people feel that people imprisoned because of capital crimes should suffer for what they have done. There is a need to have a clear definition for cruel and unusual punishments, to get rid of the controversies and discrepancies surrounding the eighth amendment.
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