Cruel And Unusual Punishment Analysis

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Cruel and unusual punishment is, by definition, “such punishment as would amount to torture or barbarity, any cruel and degrading punishment … any fine, penalty, confinement, or treatment that is so disproportionate to the offense as to shock the moral sense of the community” (Cruel and Unusual Punishment). The number of prisoners in the United States has climbed in 2016 to a staggering 2.2 million, up from 200,000 in 1972. A full 36 percent of those incarcerated are behind bars for nonviolent offenses. Such numbers alone should shock the moral sense, but to fully understand the nature of cruel and unusual punishment for nonviolent crimes, we must define such crimes, consider the sentences for such crimes and the injustices faced by the prisoner …show more content…
However, it has been held true throughout most of society that the punishment should at least “fit the crime.” Within the discussion of a “perfect society” in fields like political science and history, the ideology that the punishment should fit the crime has been discussed over and over again. One of the earliest examples of this in history lies within Hammurabi’s Code, which encouraged the saying “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.” In other words, equal punishment must be provided to the offender. In recent years state and federal policies have chosen to support a prison system that over-sentences nonviolent offenders. Most often such over-over sentencing can be seen in non-violent drug crimes. Until recently, sentencing for crack cocaine possession was so disproportionate to powder cocaine that an offender carrying powder would have to carry 100 times the product for equal sentencing. That distinction is shocking, but consider the comparison between the violent state crime of sexual assault of a child carrying five years and the mandatory minimum sentence for one count of mail fraud, a nonviolent crime, of ten years in federal prisons. Time magazine’s Brooke Eisen wrote, “Public safety should be the number one reason we incarcerate. But penalties should be the most effective, proportional, and cost-efficient sanction to achieve that goal. We found that approximately 39% of the …show more content…
The nation should be shocked. Punishment for nonviolent offenses, as defined in this paper, are wildly disproportionate to the crimes committed. Worse, the conditions prisoners must endure constitute a moral and human rights issue. The punishments for nonviolent offenses, are without a doubt, cruel and

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