Amendment 8

The Bill of Rights

Amendment 1

Amendment 2

Amendment 3

Amendment 4

Amendment 5

Amendment 6

Amendment 7

Amendment 8

Amendment 9

Amendment 10

Glossary

Teacher Notes

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed,......

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed,

The courts can not assign the accused an excessive amount for bail. If they could, then a judge might look at someone and decide they look guilty and make the bail 10 million dollars.

  • Bail is a sum of money or property given to the court as a promise that the accused will return for their trial. If the accused fails to show up for their trial, they lose their bail.
  • Bail is assigned on the type of crime committed and the likelihood that the accused will return for their trial. The greater the seriousness of the crime, the higher the bail.
  • Bail allows time for the accused to prepare for their defense, which is hard to do while in jail.

Many people accused of a crime do not have the money for bail so they get a bail bondsman. The bondsman provides the money for bail (for a fee), and may send a bounty hunter to find the bailee if they "skip" town and don't show up for their trial, which causes the bail bondsman to lose money.

........nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

No cruel or unusual punishments are allowed according to this amendment. The problem is...what exactly is cruel or unusual? At the time of the writing of this amendment guilty people were sometimes pulled into 4 pieces by horses, strangled, burned, branded, disemboweled (their guts cut out), or had their hands cut off or sat in stocks so that others could make fun of them and throw things at them. Today these seem cruel and unusual. So today states use the gas chamber, lethal injection, hanging, firing squad, or the electric chair. Do you believe that executing someone found guilty of terrible crimes is cruel or unusual?

This amendment also prevents the government from punishing a criminal in some strange or unusual way. If someone is found guilty of stealing, the court can't cut off your hand or, make you sing in the nude on television.


"Dunking" no longer used.

An early Electric Chair

Capital punishment or execution is still argued about today and probably always will be. Some argue that it helps stop others from committing crimes because they won't want to be executed. Others argue that no matter how terrible the crime, the state does not have the right to kill a human being. Each state decides whether or not to have executions.

Number of states that use which method of execution

  • Firing Squad - 3
  • Hanging - 4
  • Lethal Gas - 7
  • Electric Chair - 11
  • Lethal Injection - 33

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1976 that the death penalty was constitutional.

Since 1976 there have been 628 inmates executed.

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