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The Eighth Amendment, enacted in 1791 as part of the Bill of Rights, provides that “excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted” (U.S. Const., Amend. VIII). The three tenets of the Eighth Amendment aim to protect the property and liberty rights of those accused of crimes under the “presumption of innocence” principle, coupled with the notion that consequences imposed on conviction should bear some relationship to the gravity of the offense and neither be uncivilized nor imposed arbitrarily. This entry briefly reviews the general contours of the Eighth Amendment as well as the principles and parameters that regulate government actions in these regards. While the Eighth Amendment is an important source of constitutional principles with respect ...

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