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Are Citizen of the United States Really Protected by the 8th Amendment of the Bill of Rights in the Us Constitution?

Updated on September 8, 2018

Are citizen of the United States really protected by the 8th Amendment of the Bill of Rights in the US Constitution?

Are citizen of the United States really protected by the 8th Amendment of the Bill of Rights in the Constitution of the United States of America? The 8th amendment says: Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted. This amendment was ratified in the United States Constitution in 1791. There are three parts to this Amendment. These three parts are:

1. Excessive Bail shall not be required

2. Excessive fines shall not be imposed

3. Cruel and Unusual punishment shall not be inflicted.

In this article I am going to talk about the third part of this Amendment which is supposed to protect people from cruel and unusual punishment by US Federal and State courts. Another issue that I am going to discuss in relation to this topic is the consequences imposed on a person convicted of a crime. This amendment was design from preventing convicts from suffering cruel and unusual punishments by the judicial system. It does not seem to prevent the consequences of stigmatizations, restrictions, rejections, prejudices, stereotypes, discriminations ect… from being convicted of a crime by employers and others in society.


People in general commit crimes every day. Sometimes they are caught for the crimes and other times they are not caught for the crimes. For the people that get caught for a crime and are convicted, the extent of their punishment will vary based upon the crime that they had committed. For example, if a person commits a first degree robbery the punishment will be more than someone who committed petty theft. For example in the State of California according to penal section 211 a first degree robbery conviction is punishable by 3, 4, or 6 years in state prison (http://info.sfcriminallawspecialist.com/bid/83986/Sentencing-and-Punishment-for-Robbery). On the other hand “A misdemeanor conviction for petty theft in California carries a sentence of up to six months in county jail, a fine of no more than $1,000, or both.” (http://www.criminaldefenselawyer.com/resources/criminal-defense/crime-penalties/petty-theft-california-penalties-defense).

In the examples of crimes stated above a first degree robbery is classified as a felony. A petty theft as described above is classified as a misdemeanor. A person that is convicted of a felony has a greater punishment than one who is convicted of a misdemeanor. Under the 8th Amendment a person is protected against receiving a greater punishment for the crime committed than necessary according to United States of America State and Federal laws.

The question if citizens are protected by the 8th Amendment brings up a different question. What is cruel and unusual punishment? Cruel and unusual punishment for a crime is subjective. This means that one person may consider the punishment for a specific crime cruel and unjust and another person may consider that same punishment for the same crime decent and just. Cruel is defined as:

1. Willfully or knowingly causing pain or distress to others.

2. Enjoying the pain or distress of others

3. Causing or marked by great pain or distress

4. Rigid; stern; strict; unrelentingly sever (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/cruel?s=t).

There are many people in society today that have been convicted and punished for the crimes they have committed and there are other people that have been convicted and punished for crimes that they have not committed. For the people that have been convicted for crimes they have not committed. I think that most people reading this would agree that their conviction and punishment is cruel and unjust because they did not do the crime. For the people that committed a crime and have been convicted and punished I think that many people have different ideas as to what is a cruel punishment for the crime that was committed.

For the sake of argument let us just suppose that the laws for punishment of convictions of crimes are just and deserving. For example, if a person was convicted of a 1st degree robbery and served a 3 year sentence in prison and 3 years of probation the punishment for the crime was sufficient. The convict committed the crime and did their time and now it is time for that person to go back into society and work to provide for their selves and others.

Many people would agree that a person that was convicted of the crime and paid for it may have learned their lesson and should be able to live the rest of their lives without having any more punishment for the crime that they committed and paid for in the past. After all, the person did complete their sentence and appease the court system right? Yes. There are other people that do not see it that way. They think that the punishment was not sufficient and that the convict should suffer a greater punishment.

Today in society it is said that over 65 million people have a criminal record. According to libetariannews.org there are about 24 million people in 2014 who are convicted felons. With felonies and misdemeanors together over 1/4 of the population in the US have a criminal conviction. Refer to bjs.gov for more detailed information of how many people have been convicted of crimes.

With the great number of people that have a criminal record in the United States many of them that have received the punishment for the crimes they have been convicted for are still being subject to punishment. Some people think this continual punishment is cruel punishment. Are they receiving this punishment by the judicial system? In a way, yes. An example of the way the judicial system causes a person convicted of a crime, cruel punishment for past crimes is by putting that person’s conviction on a public record. By them putting that information on a public record it gives people in society a way to discriminate against the person who was convicted. For example there are many people that employers will not hire. They will not hire them not because they are not capable of doing the job, or don’t have the skills, or are bad workers, or don’t have the credentials. They will not hire them because they have been convicted of a crime in the past.

What we have in society is a lot of people that need to work to get shelter, food and clothes, provide for their children, family members and others but are not able to find certain jobs because employers and licensing agencies will not let them. The reason they will not let them is because a person was convicted of a crime in the past. This is discrimination. Not only is the person who was convicted continually suffering, it is others in society that are suffering. An example of this is if a person who was convicted for a crime in the past needs to get a good paying job in order to pay for their children to have food for health, medical, education, and housing but is not able to because the career that they had before they got the conviction does not allow them to be employed. Another example is if a person who was convicted of a crime and completed their sentence is a genus and has the ability to find the cure for cancer but is not able to because they cannot become licensed to practice medicine. It is not only the convict that suffers but other people in society who suffers as well.

Are citizen of the United States really protected by the 8th Amendment of the Bill of Rights in the Constitution of the United States of America? It does not seem to prevent the consequences of stigmatizations, restrictions, rejections, prejudices, stereotypes, discriminations ect… from being convicted of a crime by employers and others in society. If it is not cruel punishment for people that have past convictions and to continue to suffer punishment in society as a result of the way that the court system publicizes peoples past crimes then the 8th amendment is serving its purpose. If it is cruel punishment then the 8th amendment is not serving its purpose and it seems that policy and laws in society need to be changed and improved for the cause of Justice and melioration of society as a whole.

Does not hiring someone based on a past criminal conviction hurt society?

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