Q:

What is the Eighth Amendment?

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Quick Answer

The Eighth Amendment states that the United States government cannot create "cruel or unusual punishments," such as torture and cannot implement excessive fines. The Eighth Amendment was ratified on December 15, 1791.

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Full Answer

The "cruel and unusual punishments" phrase was taken from the English Bill of Rights. This amendment was created because the colonists were used to the British enacting powerful and painful punishments for mere minor offenses. The colonists did not want the new government to punish those who were guilty with what they considered to be cruel and inhumane treatment. This was part of the foundation that the justice system was built on as well.

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