Cruel and unusual punishments are punishments that are inhumane or violate basic human dignity; prohibited by the Eighth Amendment.
The Eighth Amendment prohibition against “cruel and unusual punishment” has been a very dynamic body of law, being interpreted and reinterpreted by the Supreme Court over many years. Because of this, perhaps the only inclusive definition is to say that cruel and unusual punishment is whatever the Supreme Court says it is.
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Last Modified: 07/06/2021