Amendment VIII

Prohibiting Unfair Treatment Since 1791!

Fair Treatment for All

The 8th amendment was ratified in December of 1791. It protects citizens from:

  • unusual punishment (under the law)
  • excessive bail
  • excessive fines

The amendment itself states: "Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted".

  • The amendment was originally from the English Bill of Rights.
  • It was originally put into place because of the case of Titus Oates, who was punished unusually for his actions every year instead of at once.
  • George Mason, a Virginian, was the first to propose it to any US document.
  • James Madison included it in his list of the starting 12 amendments, which was abridged to 10 later on.

The Divisions of This Amendment

As was stated earlier, this amendment is composed of 3 parts. Each one prevents a certain form of unfair treatment.

Unusual Punishment

This section of the amendment means that someone who commits a crime may not be treated unfairly under the law, as in they may not be punished using means that our unconventional or contradictory to normal treatment.

Excessive Bail

This part of the amendment means that a jailed person may not be fined an excessive amount for bail. The crime committed must equal to the bail that must be paid. For example, someone who commits a petty theft may not be charged the same amount of bail as someone who committed a murder.

Excessive Fines

This division of the amendment means that someone may not be forced to pay a large sum of money for a crime, or offense committed. For example, a person may not be charged a humongous sum of money for a minor offense such as parking in a handicap spot without permission.


1. "Eighth Amendment." LII / Legal Information Institute. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Feb. 2016.

2. "8th Amendment." Revolutionary War and Beyond. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Feb. 2016.

3. "Amendment VIII Excessive Fines, Cruel and Unusual Punishment." National Constitution Center. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Feb. 2016.