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8th Amendment

Essay by   •  June 2, 2011  •  Research Paper  •  3,893 Words (16 Pages)  •  2,220 Views

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I. Introduction

Imagine being hanged for a felony you committed, or being captured in a gas chamber suffering from the fumes because you were convicted for a crime and your sentence was the death penalty. These are the types of punishments that the 8th Amendment protects us from. As you know the 8th Amendment is very important and accommodating to the United States. The 8th Amendment is also part of the Bill of Rights. Without this amendment, people on death row could easily be brutally tortured for crimes they might not have committed. Others were giving fines and/or bails too high for them to pay or fines and bails that were too elevated for the crime they committed.

II. Background

A: Definition of a Constitutional Amendment

A Constitutional Amendment is "a written change made to the Constitution and the document that created the present government of the United States" The Constitution was written in the year of 1789 and it became effective in March 1789. The Constitution was signed by 39 of the 42 framers on September 17. Before the Constitution was ratified, it had to be approved by 9 of the 13 states. The states had to be set up in a special convention for delegates to vote on the Constitution (Massing 47- 48& 414). The Constitution also includes the Bill of Rights, Amendments 11-27, along with The Declaration of Independence. In 1787, the Founding Fathers wrote the U.S. Constitution in Philadelphia (Graham 5).

B: Process of Ratifying an Amendment in the Constitution

The process of can take a long time and the approval is not definite. "Article V of the Constitution outlines the process for making amendments." Amendments have to be approved by ¾ of the states to be proposed. An amendment can be anticipated or proposed in two ways. One requirement is, 2/3 vote has Both the Houses of Representatives and the Senate. Another requirement is, legislatures of 2/3 (34 out of 50) of the states, ask Congress to call a national convention to propose an amendment.

After an amendment has been introduced, it has to be approved by the states. There are also two ways to ratify an amendment (the ratification process has to be termed as a proposed amendment) One, the proposed amendment can be sent to the state legislature. Also, the proposed amendment can be sent to the state conventions as well. Then, after an amendment has been ratified by ¾ of the states it becomes part of the Constitution. (Massing 100)

C: Information on the Process of Ratification on the 8th Amendment

The Eighth Amendment has been around for some time now, since 1791. The Eighth Amendment was introduced by the Congress to the states on September 25, 1789. The 8th Amendment was ratified on December 15, 1791 by ¾ of the states (eleven of fourteen states). It also became part of the Constitution on December 15, 1791as well (Pendergast, 159). The information of the 8th Amendment came practically from the Virginia Declaration of Rights on 1776. Also, the Virginia Declaration of Rights on 1776 came from the English Bill of Rights on 1689 (Wikipedia.org/Eighth_Amendment_of_the_Constitution).

D: Before the 8th Amendment

Have you ever wondered or asked yourself where the 8th amendment came about? The 8th Amendment was "inspired by the case in England of Titus Oates, after, the ascension of King James II in 1685." Oates committed the crime of calling James or the future king a trader. Oates got the sentence of imprisonment including 2 days pillory (http://wikipedia.org/Eighth_Amendment_of_the_Constitution). According to dictionarty.com/ pillory, pillory is "a wooden framework erected on a post, with holes for securing the head and hands, formerly used to expose an offender to public derision." Also Oates got 1 day of whipping while tied to a moving cart. From reading this I asked myself, "Why didn't he just get the death penalty?" Information has proven that Oates did not get the death penalty because he had an honest witness to testify in later cases. (http://wikipedia.org/Eighth_Amendment_of_the_Constitution)

In the 9th- 10th century, judges used to travel from county to county hearing local cases. Town's sheriff had to hold the defendants until judges arrive, but it cost to hold a defendant. The sheriffs were allowed to set bail very high. They set bail high to advantage the wealthy defendants or to keep defendants in jail longer. In 1823, even if you stole a small amount of money, you had a good probably of the death penalty. (Pendergast, 160)

E: Bill of Rights Information

In 1789, the Bill of Rights was introduced by James Madison. The Bill of Rights was approved by the states and added to the Constitution in the year of 1791 (Graham, 5). James Madison was one of the most important founders/ proposer of the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights "is a structure of the first 10 amendments listed in the U.S. Constitution." In other words, it defines the rights and freedoms of Americans all over the world (Massing, 110).

Who guarantees our freedom? Research has said that James Madison the founder of the Bill of Rights had a little to do with gaining our freedoms. James was also known as "The Father of the Bill of Rights or Constitution." Madison was born on March 16, 1751in Port Conway, Virginia. Also, James Madison served as the 4th president of the United States during the years of 1809 - 1817. (http://en.wikipedia.org/James_Madison). There was no limit on how long a president could be served until Franklin D. Roosevelt. To tell you the truth resources has shown that James Madison did not agree with the Bill of Rights at first. Most of the delegates did not think the Bill of Rights was a good idea. However, Madison changed his mind with the help of Thomas Jefferson. Thomas Jefferson was the author of "The Declaration of Independence." While Thomas was in Paris serving as an ambassador to France, they wrote letters back and forth, including the decision regarding the Bill of Rights. Madison told Jefferson about the request of the Bill of Rights, and Thomas agreed with the people that approved and wanted the Bill of Rights. Thomas felt that the Bill of Rights was the right thing to do. Also, Madison told Jefferson about what the Bill of Rights would include. Madison said, "It will protect the rights of citizens, keep the central government in line and help the Americans gain trust in the new government" (Graham, 33-35).

It is the job of the Supreme Court to make sure the Bill of Rights was respected and not to be criticized. The Supreme Court is

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