The Eighth Amendment

By Tim Guidera - bio | email

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) – By their nature, the amendments were designed to clarify discrepancies and resolve oversights in the constitution.

So the Eighth Amendment is unique in the way it has largely invited interpretation for more than two centuries.

The amendment stipulates protection from cruel and unusual punishment such as drawing and quartering, public dissection and burning alive. But it inadvertently and almost immediately triggered debate about what cruel and unusual is, an argument that continues today.

"Clearly, (the Eighth Amendment) is part in parcel today to the debate over the death penalty,'' says Dr. Brett Curry, a Political Science professor at Georgia Southern University. "It seems pretty clear that it wasn't the intention of the framers of the Constitution to have the Eighth Amendment ban the death penalty. Because there are various other parts of the Constitution that say that life cannot be taken without due process. And that seems to suggest that, if due process is followed, life can theoretically be taken.''

The Eighth Amendment is almost identical to a provision in the English Bill of Rights written nearly a century earlier.

While it was originally designed to the federal government for administering cruel and unusual punishment, the Supreme Court has rules that the clause applies to the states.

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