Amendment 8 of the US Constitution prohibits cruel and unusual punishments:
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
The clause prohibits the government from using punishments that are inhumane or that violate basic human dignity, including torture, enslavement, execution of people with mental health issues, handcuffing a prisoner to a horizontal bar in the hot sun for several hours, etc.
The Supreme Court ruled that imposing the death penalty on juveniles constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.
The defendant’s attorney argued that prison for his elderly client would be cruel and unusual punishment.
According to Justice Scalia, a punishment violates the Eighth Amendment if it is both cruel and unusual.« Back to Glossary Index