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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.

If a court determines that a punishment is “cruel and unusual”, the punishment is unconstitutional.

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.


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Sample Sentences:

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.

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