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Criminal Law

Eighth Amendment

Institution
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Full-Text Articles in Law

Bail At The Founding, Kellen R. Funk, Sandra G. Mayson Jan 2024

Bail At The Founding, Kellen R. Funk, Sandra G. Mayson

Faculty Scholarship

How did criminal bail work in the Founding era? This question has become pressing as bail, and bail reform, have attracted increasing attention, in part because history is thought to bear on the meaning of bail-related constitutional provisions. To date, however, there has been no thorough account of bail at the Founding. This Article begins to correct the deficit in our collective memory by describing bail law and practice in the Founding era, from approximately 1790 to 1810. In order to give a full account, we surveyed a wide range of materials, including Founding-era statutes, case law, legal treatises, and …


No Sense Of Decency, Kathryn E. Miller Mar 2023

No Sense Of Decency, Kathryn E. Miller

Articles

For nearly seventy years, the Court has assessed Eighth Amendment claims by evaluating “the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society.” In this Article, I examine the evolving standards of decency test, which has long been a punching bag for critics on both the right and the left. Criticism of the doctrine has been fierce, but largely academic until recent years. Some fault the test for being too majoritarian, while others argue that it provides few constraints on the Justices’ discretion, permitting their personal predilections to rule the day. For many, the test is seen …


Criminal Justice Secrets, Meghan J. Ryan Jan 2022

Criminal Justice Secrets, Meghan J. Ryan

Faculty Journal Articles and Book Chapters

The American criminal justice system is cloaked in secrecy. The government employs covert surveillance operations. Grand-jury proceedings are hidden from public view. Prosecutors engage in closed-door plea-bargaining and bury exculpatory evidence. Juries convict defendants on secret evidence. Jury deliberations are a black box. And jails and prisons implement clandestine punishment practices. Although there are some justifications for this secrecy, the ubiquitous nature of it is contrary to this nation’s Founders’ steadfast belief in the transparency of criminal justice proceedings. Further, the pervasiveness of secrecy within today’s criminal justice system raises serious constitutional concerns. The accumulation of secrecy and the aggregation …


Beyond "Children Are Different": The Revolution In Juvenile Intake And Sentencing, Joshua Gupta-Kagan Jan 2021

Beyond "Children Are Different": The Revolution In Juvenile Intake And Sentencing, Joshua Gupta-Kagan

Faculty Scholarship

For more than 120 years, juvenile justice law has not substantively defined the core questions in most delinquency cases — when should the state prosecute children rather than divert them from the court system (the intake decision), and what should the state do with children once they are convicted (the sentencing decision)? Instead, the law has granted certain legal actors wide discretion over these decisions, namely prosecutors at intake and judges at sentencing. This Article identifies and analyzes an essential reform trend changing that reality: legislation, enacted in at least eight states in the 2010s, to limit when children can …


Science And The Eighth Amendment, Meghan J. Ryan Jan 2020

Science And The Eighth Amendment, Meghan J. Ryan

Faculty Journal Articles and Book Chapters

As time hurtles forward, new science constantly emerges, and many scientific fields can shed light on whether a punishment is unconstitutionally cruel and unusual, or even on whether bail or fines are unconstitutionally excessive under the Eighth Amendment. In fact, in recent years, science has played an increasingly important role in the Court’s Eighth Amendment jurisprudence. From the development of an offender’s brain, to the composition of lethal injection drugs, even to measurements of pain, knowledge of various scientific fields is becoming central to understanding whether a punishment is unconstitutionally cruel and unusual. There are a number of limits to …


Reckless Juveniles, Kimberly Thomas Feb 2019

Reckless Juveniles, Kimberly Thomas

Articles

Modern doctrine and scholarship largely take it for granted that offenders should be criminally punished for reckless acts.1 Yet, developments in our understanding of human behavior can shed light on how we define and attribute criminal liability, or at least force us to grapple with the categories that have existed for so long. This Article examines recklessness and related doctrines in light of the shifts in understanding of adolescent behavior and its biological roots, to see what insights we might attain, or what challenges these understandings pose to this foundational mens rea doctrine. Over the past decade, the U.S. Supreme …


The Present Crisis In American Bail, Kellen R. Funk Jan 2019

The Present Crisis In American Bail, Kellen R. Funk

Faculty Scholarship

More than fifty years after a predicted coming federal courts crisis in bail, district courts have begun granting major systemic injunctions against money bail systems. This Essay surveys the constitutional theories and circuit splits that are forming through these litigations. The major point of controversy is the level of federal court scrutiny triggered by allegedly unconstitutional bail regimes, an inquiry complicated by ambiguous Supreme Court precedents on (1) post-conviction fines, (2) preventive detention at the federal level, and (3) the adequacy of probable cause hearings. The Essay argues that the application of strict scrutiny makes the best sense of these …


Convictions Of Innocent People With Intellectual Disability, Sheri Johnson, John H. Blume, Amelia Courtney Hritz Jan 2018

Convictions Of Innocent People With Intellectual Disability, Sheri Johnson, John H. Blume, Amelia Courtney Hritz

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

In Atkins v. Virginia, the Supreme Court held that executing individuals with intellectual disability violates the Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause of the Eighth Amendment. In addition to concerns over culpability and deterrence, the Court’s judgment in Atkins was informed by the heightened “risk of wrongful execution” faced by persons with intellectual disability. This essay explores that question both anecdotally and quantitatively, hoping to illuminate the causes of wrongful conviction of persons with intellectual disability. We provide examples from our experiences in the Cornell Death Penalty Clinic and cases brought to our attention by defense attorneys. We also present data …


From Grace To Grids: Rethinking Due Process Protections For Parole., Kimberly A. Thomas, Paul D. Reingold May 2017

From Grace To Grids: Rethinking Due Process Protections For Parole., Kimberly A. Thomas, Paul D. Reingold

Articles

Current due process law gives little protection to prisoners at the point of parole, even though the parole decision, like sentencing, determines whether or not a person will serve more time or will go free. The doctrine regarding parole, which developed mostly in the late 1970s, was based on a judicial understanding of parole as an experimental, subjective, and largely standardless art—rooted in assessing the individual “character” of the potential parolee. In this Article we examine the foundations of the doctrine, and conclude that the due process inquiry at the point of parole should take into account the stark changes …


Random If Not "Rare"? The Eighth Amendment Weaknesses Of Post-Miller Legislation, Kimberly Thomas Mar 2017

Random If Not "Rare"? The Eighth Amendment Weaknesses Of Post-Miller Legislation, Kimberly Thomas

Articles

First, this Article surveys the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to analogize life without parole for juveniles to the death penalty for adults, and discusses the Eighth Amendment law regarding the parameters around death penalty statutory schemes. Second, this Article examines the state legislative response to Miller, and scrutinizes it with the Court's Eighth Amendment death penalty law-and the states' responses to this case law-in mind. This Article highlights the failure of juvenile homicide sentencing provisions to: 1) narrow offenses that are eligible for life without parole sentences; 2) further limit, once a guilty finding is made, the categories of …


Cruel Techniques, Unusual Secrets, William W. Berry, Meghan J. Ryan Jan 2017

Cruel Techniques, Unusual Secrets, William W. Berry, Meghan J. Ryan

Faculty Journal Articles and Book Chapters

In the recent case of Glossip v. Gross, the Supreme Court denied a death row petitioner’s challenge to Oklahoma’s lethal injection protocol. An important part of Justice Alito’s majority opinion highlighted the existence of a relationship between the constitutionality of a punishment and the requirement of a constitutional technique available to administer the punishment.

Far from foreclosing future challenges, this principle ironically highlights the failure of the Court to describe the relationship under the Eighth Amendment between three distinct categories of punishment: (1) the type of punishment imposed by the court — i.e., death penalty, life without parole, life with …


The Downstream Consequences Of Misdemeanor Pretrial Detention, Paul Heaton, Sandra G. Mayson, Megan Stevenson Jan 2017

The Downstream Consequences Of Misdemeanor Pretrial Detention, Paul Heaton, Sandra G. Mayson, Megan Stevenson

Scholarly Works

In misdemeanor cases, pretrial detention poses a particular problem because it may induce innocent defendants to plead guilty in order to exit jail, potentially creating widespread error in case adjudication. While practitioners have long recognized this possibility, empirical evidence on the downstream impacts of pretrial detention on misdemeanor defendants and their cases remains limited. This Article uses detailed data on hundreds of thousands of misdemeanor cases resolved in Harris County, Texas—the thirdlargest county in the United States—to measure the effects of pretrial detention on case outcomes and future crime. We find that detained defendants are 25% more likely than similarly …


Justice Scalia’S Originalism And Formalism: The Rule Of Criminal Law As A Law Of Rules, Stephanos Bibas Aug 2016

Justice Scalia’S Originalism And Formalism: The Rule Of Criminal Law As A Law Of Rules, Stephanos Bibas

All Faculty Scholarship

Far too many reporters and pundits collapse law into politics, assuming that the left–right divide between Democratic and Republican appointees neatly explains politically liberal versus politically conservative outcomes at the Supreme Court. The late Justice Antonin Scalia defied such caricatures. His consistent judicial philosophy made him the leading exponent of originalism, textualism, and formalism in American law, and over the course of his three decades on the Court, he changed the terms of judicial debate. Now, as a result, supporters and critics alike start with the plain meaning of the statutory or constitutional text rather than loose appeals to legislative …


The Inequality Of America's Death Penalty: A Crossroads For Capital Punishment At The Intersection Of The Eighth And Fourteenth Amendments, John Bessler Jan 2016

The Inequality Of America's Death Penalty: A Crossroads For Capital Punishment At The Intersection Of The Eighth And Fourteenth Amendments, John Bessler

All Faculty Scholarship

We live in a divided society, from gated communities to cell blocks congested with disproportionate numbers of young African-American men. There are rich and poor, privileged and homeless, Democrats and Republicans, wealthy zip codes and stubbornly impoverished ones. There are committed "Black Lives Matter" protesters, and there are those who—invoking "Blue Lives Matter" demonstrate in support of America‘s hardworking police officers. In her new article, "Matters of Strata: Race, Gender, and Class Structures in Capital Cases," George Washington University law professor Phyllis Goldfarb highlights the stratification of our society and offers a compelling critique of America‘s death penalty regime—one, she …


Taking Dignity Seriously: Excavating The Backdrop Of The Eighth Amendment, Meghan J. Ryan Jan 2016

Taking Dignity Seriously: Excavating The Backdrop Of The Eighth Amendment, Meghan J. Ryan

Faculty Journal Articles and Book Chapters

The U.S. punishment system is in turmoil. We have a historically unprecedented number of offenders in prison, and our prisoners are serving longer sentences than in any other country. States are surreptitiously experimenting with formulas for lethal injection cocktails, and some prisoners are suffering from botched executions. Despite this tumult, the Eighth Amendment of our Constitution does place limits on the punishments that may be imposed and how they may be implemented. The difficulty, though, is that the Supreme Court’s Eighth Amendment jurisprudence is a bit of a mess. The Court has been consistent in stating that a focus on …


Newsroom: Nason '05 Cited By U.S. Supreme Court, Roger Williams University School Of Law Jun 2015

Newsroom: Nason '05 Cited By U.S. Supreme Court, Roger Williams University School Of Law

Life of the Law School (1993- )

No abstract provided.


Trending@Rwu Law: Professor Emily Sack's Post: More Death Penalty Puzzles Highlighted By New Supreme Court Case, Emily Sack Feb 2015

Trending@Rwu Law: Professor Emily Sack's Post: More Death Penalty Puzzles Highlighted By New Supreme Court Case, Emily Sack

Law School Blogs

No abstract provided.


An Eighth Amendment Analysis Of Statutes Allowing Or Mandating Transfer Of Juvenile Offenders To Adult Criminal Court In Light Of The Supreme Court's Recent Jurisprudence Recognizing Developmental Neuroscience, Katherine I. Puzone Jan 2015

An Eighth Amendment Analysis Of Statutes Allowing Or Mandating Transfer Of Juvenile Offenders To Adult Criminal Court In Light Of The Supreme Court's Recent Jurisprudence Recognizing Developmental Neuroscience, Katherine I. Puzone

Faculty Scholarship

No abstract provided.


Evolving Standards Of Domination: Abandoning A Flawed Legal Standard And Approaching A New Era In Penal Reform, Spearit Jan 2015

Evolving Standards Of Domination: Abandoning A Flawed Legal Standard And Approaching A New Era In Penal Reform, Spearit

Articles

This Article critiques the evolving standards of decency doctrine as a form of Social Darwinism. It argues that evolving standards of decency provided a system of review that was tailor-made for Civil Rights opponents to scale back racial progress. Although as a doctrinal matter, evolving standards sought to tie punishment practices to social mores, prison sentencing became subject to political agendas that determined the course of punishment more than the benevolence of a maturing society. Indeed, rather than the fierce competition that is supposed to guide social development, the criminal justice system was consciously deployed as a means of social …


What Is Criminal Restitution?, Cortney E. Lollar Nov 2014

What Is Criminal Restitution?, Cortney E. Lollar

Law Faculty Scholarly Articles

A new form of restitution has become a core aspect of criminal punishment. Courts now order defendants to compensate victims for an increasingly broad category of losses, including emotional and psychological losses and losses for which the defendant was not found guilty. Criminal restitution therefore moves far beyond its traditional purpose of disgorging a defendant's ill-gotten gains. Instead, restitution has become a mechanism of imposing additional punishment. Courts, however, have failed to recognize the punitive nature of restitution and thus enter restitution orders without regard to the constitutional protections that normally attach to criminal proceedings. This Article deploys a novel …


Pretrial Detention And The Right To Be Monitored, Samuel R. Wiseman Mar 2014

Pretrial Detention And The Right To Be Monitored, Samuel R. Wiseman

Scholarly Publications

Although detention for dangerousness has received far more attention in recent years, a significant number of non-dangerous but impecunious defendants are jailed to ensure their presence at trial due to continued, widespread reliance on a money bail system. This Essay develops two related claims. First, in the near term, electronic monitoring will present a superior alternative to money bail for addressing flight risk. In contrast to previous proposals for reducing pretrial detention rates, electronic monitoring has the potential to reduce both fugitive rates (by allowing the defendant to be easily located) and government expenditures (by reducing the number of defendants …


Lethal Injection And The Right Of Access: The Intersection Of The Eighth And First Amendments, Timothy F. Brown Jan 2014

Lethal Injection And The Right Of Access: The Intersection Of The Eighth And First Amendments, Timothy F. Brown

Faculty Publications, School of Management

The Spring and Summer of 2014 have witnessed renewed debate on the constitutionality of the death penalty after a series of high profile legal battles concerning access to lethal injection protocols and subsequent questionable executions. Due to shortages in the drugs traditionally used for the lethal injection, States have changed their lethal injection protocols to shield information from both the prisoners and the public. Citing public safety concerns, the States refuse to release information concerning the procurement of the drugs to the public. Such obstruction hinders the public’s ability to determine the cruelty of the punishment imposed and creates the …


Juries And The Criminal Constitution, Meghan J. Ryan Jan 2014

Juries And The Criminal Constitution, Meghan J. Ryan

Faculty Journal Articles and Book Chapters

Judges are regularly deciding criminal constitutional issues based on changing societal values. For example, they are determining whether police officer conduct has violated society’s "reasonable expectations of privacy" under the Fourth Amendment and whether a criminal punishment fails to comport with the "evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society" under the Eighth Amendment. Yet judges are not trained to assess societal values, nor do they, in assessing them, ordinarily consult data to determine what those values are. Instead, judges turn inward, to their own intuitions, morals, and values, to determine these matters. But judges’ internal …


Lethal Injection Chaos Post-Baze, Deborah W. Denno Jan 2014

Lethal Injection Chaos Post-Baze, Deborah W. Denno

Faculty Scholarship

In 2008, with Baze v. Rees, the Supreme Court broke decades of silence regarding state execution methods to declare Kentucky’s lethal injection protocol constitutional, yet the opinion itself did not offer much guidance. In the six years after Baze, legal challenges to lethal injection soared as states scrambled to quell litigation by modifying their lethal injection protocols. My unprecedented study of over 300 cases citing Baze reveals that such modifications have occurred with alarming frequency. Moreover, even as states purportedly rely on the Baze opinion, they have changed their lethal injection protocols in inconsistent ways that bear little …


Constitutionally Tailoring Punishment, Richard A. Bierschbach, Stephanos Bibas Dec 2013

Constitutionally Tailoring Punishment, Richard A. Bierschbach, Stephanos Bibas

All Faculty Scholarship

Since the turn of the century, the Supreme Court has begun to regulate non-capital sentencing under the Sixth Amendment in the Apprendi line of cases (requiring jury findings of fact to justify sentence enhancements) as well as under the Eighth Amendment in the Miller and Graham line of cases (forbidding mandatory life imprisonment for juvenile defendants). Though both lines of authority sound in individual rights, in fact they are fundamentally about the structures of criminal justice. These two seemingly disparate lines of doctrine respond to structural imbalances in non-capital sentencing by promoting morally appropriate punishment judgments that are based on …


The Illusory Eighth Amendment, John F. Stinneford Dec 2013

The Illusory Eighth Amendment, John F. Stinneford

UF Law Faculty Publications

Although there is no obvious doctrinal connection between the Supreme Court’s Miranda jurisprudence and its Eighth Amendment excessive punishments jurisprudence, the two are deeply connected at the level of methodology. In both areas, the Supreme Court has been criticized for creating “prophylactic” rules that invalidate government actions because they create a mere risk of constitutional violation. In reality, however, both sets of rules deny constitutional protection to a far greater number of individuals with plausible claims of unconstitutional treatment than they protect.

This dysfunctional combination of over- and underprotection arises from the Supreme Court’s use of implementation rules as a …


Symposium Foreword: Bombshell Or Baby Step? The Ramifications Of Miller V. Alabama For Sentencing Law And Juvenile Crime Policy, Paul J. Litton Oct 2013

Symposium Foreword: Bombshell Or Baby Step? The Ramifications Of Miller V. Alabama For Sentencing Law And Juvenile Crime Policy, Paul J. Litton

Faculty Publications

This short essay, which serves as the Symposium Foreword, argues that the rationale of Miller is incoherent insofar as it permits juvenile LWOP sentences and that the Court misidentifies the foundational principle of Roper. First, in banning mandatory juvenile LWOP sentences, the Court invokes Woodson, which bans mandatory death sentences. The Court maintains that Woodson, from its capital jurisprudence, applies because juvenile LWOP is “akin to the death penalty” for juveniles. But if the Court’s capital jurisprudence is binding based on that equivalence, Roper should imply that juvenile LWOP, like the death penalty, is unconstitutional for juveniles. This essay briefly …


Youth Matters: Miller V. Alabama And The Future Of Juvenile Sentencing, John F. Stinneford Oct 2013

Youth Matters: Miller V. Alabama And The Future Of Juvenile Sentencing, John F. Stinneford

UF Law Faculty Publications

In the Supreme Court's latest Eighth Amendment decision, Miller v. Alabama, the Court held that statutes authorizing mandatory sentences of life in prison with no possibility of parole are unconstitutional as applied to offenders who were under eighteen when they committed their crimes. This short essay examines several themes presented in Miller, including the constitutional significance of youth and science, the legitimacy of mandatory life sentences and juvenile transfer statutes, and the conflict between “evolving standards of decency” and the Supreme Court’s “independent judgment.”

This essay also introduces important articles by Richard Frase, Carol Steiker and Jordan Steiker, …


Death And Rehabilitation, Meghan J. Ryan Jan 2013

Death And Rehabilitation, Meghan J. Ryan

Faculty Journal Articles and Book Chapters

While rehabilitation is reemerging as an important penological goal, the Supreme Court is eroding the long-revered divide between capital and non-capital sentences. This raises the question of whether and how rehabilitation applies in the capital context. Courts and scholars have long concluded that it does not — that death is completely irrelevant to rehabilitation. Yet, historically, the death penalty in this country has been imposed in large part to induce the rehabilitation of offenders’ characters. Additionally, there are tales of the worst offenders transforming their characters when they are facing death, and several legal doctrines are based on the idea …


A Good Enough Reason: Addiction, Agency And Criminal Responsibility, Stephen J. Morse Jan 2013

A Good Enough Reason: Addiction, Agency And Criminal Responsibility, Stephen J. Morse

All Faculty Scholarship

The article begins by contrasting medical and moral views of addiction and how such views influence responsibility and policy analysis. It suggests that since addiction always involves action and action can always be morally evaluated, we must independently decide whether addicts do not meet responsibility criteria rather than begging the question and deciding by the label of ‘disease’ or ‘moral weakness’. It then turns to the criteria for criminal responsibility and shows that the criteria for criminal responsibility, like the criteria for addiction, are all folk psychological. Therefore, any scientific information about addiction must be ‘translated’ into the law’s folk …