How Is the 8th Amendment Used Today?

The 8th Amendment is utilized to make sure that the punishments and fines meted out for crimes are fair in correlation with the crime committed and are not considered cruel, unusual or exorbitant in nature, according to the Constitution Center. This Amendment prevents judges from setting disproportionately large bail or fine amounts.

The Constitution Center notes that over the years the section of the 8th Amendment that concerns cruel and unusual punishment has been expanded from only referencing certain types of punishment, such as gruesome punishments and torture, to include any punishment that can reasonably be considered too harsh for the crime committed. Challenges to the 8th Amendment include the sanitary conditions of prisons, the treatment of prisoners while incarcerated and the method by which some punishments are acted out, such as the death penalty. For instance, it is considered cruel and unusual to burn someone at the stake or execute them by firing squad, even if that person has been found guilty of a crime and sentenced to death. The 8th Amendment protects the rights of the accused and of those who have been found guilty of a crime and are abiding by the terms of their court ordered punishment.