The Eighth Amendment: Protective or Useless?

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The Eighth Amendment: protective or useless? In the United States government, the Constitution was formed to provide the basic structure of government. To appease the states and citizens who felt as though they were losing power and were scared of a strong national government in the wake of the stranglehold the British crown had held over the original colonies, the Bill of Rights was drawn up. The Eighth Amendment states, “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel or unusual punishments inflicted” (Colbert 12). In theory, the Eighth Amendment provides protection to those who have been accused of a crime and those who have already been convicted. However, the term “cruel and unusual punishment” has been interpreted many different ways by the government and armed forces, and to whom the right should be applied. The Eighth Amendment is perhaps the most controversial of all of the rights described in the Bill of Rights simply because of how far it can be stretched to accommodate differing views on the level of punishment that constitutes cruel and unusual. It would be many years before the Supreme Court would actually review the concept of cruel and usual punishment. The subject was brought about by the case of Willie Francis, a 17-year-old convict in Louisiana who was sentenced to death in the electric chair after he was found guilty of murdering Andrew Thomas in 1944. Thomas was a druggist in St. Martinville, LA who had once been Francis’ employer. Francis was tried and convicted of first-degree murder, despite a confession that was illegally obtained, since Francis had not been informed of his right to counsel and didn’t have a parent or guardian present. On the day that Francis was supposed to be executed, the electric chair didn’t provide the needed volts to kill Francis, who instead moaned in agony as he was delivered a
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