cruel and unusual punishment
cru·el and un·usu·al punishment n: punishment that is offensive to the contemporary morality or jurisprudence (as by being degrading, inflicting unnecessary and intentional pain, or being disproportionate to the offense)
nor cruel and unusual punishments inflictedU.S. Constitution amend. VIII see also gregg v. georgia in the important cases section compare corporal punishment, death penalty
◇ A cruel and unusual punishment is essentially one that the courts consider to violate the Eighth Amendment based on a variety of criteria. The interpretation of what constitutes cruel and unusual punishment has changed over time and has varied from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Most forms of corporal punishment formerly used at common law have been found to be cruel and unusual punishments. The U.S. Supreme Court has held that the death penalty in itself does not constitute cruel and unusual punishment, although mandatory death sentences do.

Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of Law. . 1996.

cruel and unusual punishment
n.
Punishment that offends ordinary people due to its excessiveness or cruelty, or that is far out of proportion to the offense it punishes; forbidden by the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution.

The Essential Law Dictionary. — Sphinx Publishing, An imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc. . 2008.


cruel and unusual punishment
Punishment that is extremely excessive in relation to the crime, shocking to ordinary sensibilities, or equivalent to torture. It is prohibited, but not defined, by the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.The definition of cruel and unusual punishment changes over the years, as the courts respond to "evolving standards of decency." The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the death penalty, if it could be meted out by juries with wide discretion and little guidance or applied to insane or mentally retarded defendants, is cruel and unusual punishment. There is still much debate about whether certain methods of carrying out the death penalty, including lethal injection, violate the Eighth Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
Category: Criminal Law
Category: Small Claims Court & Lawsuits

Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary. . 2009.


cruel and unusual punishment
Such punishment as would amount to torture or barbarity, any cruel and degrading punishment not known to the common law, or any fine, penalty, confinement, or treatment that is so disproportionate to the offense as to shock the moral sense of the community.

Dictionary from West's Encyclopedia of American Law. 2005.


cruel and unusual punishment
Such punishment as would amount to torture or barbarity, any cruel and degrading punishment not known to the common law, or any fine, penalty, confinement, or treatment that is so disproportionate to the offense as to shock the moral sense of the community.

Short Dictionary of (mostly American) Legal Terms and Abbreviations.

cruel and unusual punishment
n.
   governmental penalties against convicted criminal defendants which are barbaric, involve torture and/or shock the public morality. They are specifically prohibited under the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. However, nowhere are they specifically defined. Tortures like the rack (stretching the body inch by inch) or the thumbscrew, dismemberment, breaking bones, maiming, actions involving deep or long-lasting pain are all banned. But solitary confinement, enforced silence, necessary force to prevent injury to fellow prisoners or guards, psychological humiliation and bad food are generally allowed. In short, there is a large gray area, in which "cruel and unusual" is definitely subjective based on individual sensitivities and moral outlook. The U.S. Supreme Court has waffled on the death penalty, declaring that some forms of the penalty were cruel and prohibited under the Furman case (1972), which halted executions for several years, but later relaxed the prohibition. The question remains if the gas chamber, hanging or electrocution are cruel and unusual. For instance, hanging is certainly cruel but was not unusual at the time the Bill of Rights was adopted.
   See also: capital punishment

Law dictionary. . 2013.

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