Amendment 8
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The Constitutional Defense: Amendment 8

The Eighth Amendment:

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

There are some people who claim that the death penalty violates the Eighth Amendment, but I don't believe this to be so. It is certainly not "unusual." Throughout human history,
societies across the world have used the death penalty. Not all, of course, but certainly enough in the past and present to rule out "unusual." Is it "cruel?" This is certainly more
controversial and harder to answer, because everyone can come up with their own idea of what is cruel. But I ask everyone to seriously consider the following questions. Is it cruel to kill a man who raped, tortured, and then killed an innocent woman? Is it cruel to kill a person who slaughters people? Is it cruel to kill a person who molests children, and gives them paranoia, depression, social anxiety, and self-esteem problems for the rest of their lives? I think it is cruel to the victims and the victims' families to let these and other violent criminals live. I think it is cruel for society to have to pay for the upkeep of people who have committed such atrocities. (In 1999, the average cost to keep one criminal in prison for one year was $20,000. That's an average of $800,000, not considering inflation, that society has to pay to keep one person in prison for life. With over one million US citizens currently in prison, the cost of keeping these people alive is enormous. The money for this comes from every taxpayer, so victims and victims' families end up paying for the very people that abused them.) I also think it is cruel to give these criminals a chance of getting out on reprieve or parole. The majority of prisoners released commit more crimes and get arrested again. Please consider all of this the next time someone asks you if you are in favor of the death penalty.

Some people mention that the death penalty should be abolished due to the higher cost of executing someone compared to sentencing them to life in prison. First, that argument has not been proven to my satisfaction. Anti-death penalty advocates usually just use two or three states as examples, which is completely unsatisfactory with fifty states in the nation. Second, cost is a problem, and reforms need to be made to reduce it. Specifically, I think convicted felons (whether or not they were sentenced to death) should have a maximum of two appeals so that they don't tie up the courts and increase the burden on taxpayers. Also, felons shouldn't have it so easy in prison. A lot of them live better lives in prison than some innocent people do out in the real world.

If you have any comments or suggestions, please contact Jonathan Clark at
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