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Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

Excessive bail shall not required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted. 

 

The Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which is part of the original Bill of Rights, imposes important limitations on the government's treatment of criminal defendants (the bail clause) and punishment of persons convicted of crimes (the fines and punishments clauses).  Most relevant for civil rights law purposes, the Eighth Amendment, which applies to both the federal and state governments (via the Fourteenth Amendment), prohibits the mistreatment of prisoners.  Specifically, prisoners may not be subjected to excessive force and must be provided with minimally acceptable conditions of confinement, including shelter, food, and medical care.

For a general overview of the Eighth Amendment, see here (from the Heritage Foundation).



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