Talk:Cruel and unusual punishment

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Mandatory Minimums[edit]

The wiki at the bottom of the main body section is inappropriate. In a paragraph discussing a SCOTUS decision concerning mandatory minimum sentences in the United States, the wiki on "mandatory minimum sentences" redirects to "Whole Life Tariff"--a concept in 'British' law. I have redirected this wiki to "Mandatory sentencing", as it is not germane to the paragraph: (the two concepts, albeit related are not the same) mandatory minimums in the United States are not necessarily life-sentences and concern different legal traditions in different countries. ColinKennedy 22:07, 10 January 2006 (UTC)

In case anyone was wondering where the bit at the end about mandatory sentences gone, the supreme court has ruled them, and therefore zero tolerance, to be unconstitutional. More info here.

 That's not right.  The type of mandatory minimum sentences under
discussion were specifically held to be constitutional in 
Ewing v. California.  The Booker decision merely applied the Apprendi v.
New Jersey and Blakely v. Washington decisions to sentences 
enhanced pursuant to the United States Sentencing Guidelines.
Apprendi and Blakely held that “[o]ther than the fact of a prior 
conviction, any fact that increases the penalty for a crime beyond
the prescribed statutory maximum must be submitted to a jury, and
proved beyond a reasonable doubt.”  In other words, if a guy gets 
convicted by a jury for possessing ten pounds of cocaine, the Court
can't come back at sentencing and make a finding that the guy
actually had 100 pounds of cocaine and give him a longer sentence
because of the additional cocaine.  Booker had nothing to do with
mandatory minimum sentences, and such sentences -- especially those
that impose a mandatory life sentence under so-called "three
strikes" laws remain a highly relevant topic of discussion.  The
discussion should be restored.
--Ekimbrough 04:40, 7 December 2005 (UTC)

These exact words later appeared in the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution (1787).

Actually, the Eighth Amendment prohibits 'cruel and unusual punishments'. Some courts believe that because 'punishments' is plural they have the power to review types of punishments, but not individual sentences. I'll try to find some cases to this effect when i have time.

Spambi 17:38, 13 August 2006 (UTC)

The term "cruel" is necessarily flexible according to the circumstances, since all punishments are inherently cruel to some greater or lesser degree.

I don't think we should be presenting this as fact.

What's debatable? Locking someone in a little concrete room with bars on the windows is an act of cruelty, isn't it? Ellsworth 19:48, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
Yes, but imprisonment is not equal to punishment. I don't think that, for example, temporarily revoking someone's driver's license if that person was found to be driving far over the speed limit is necessarily an act of cruelty. 04:12, 5 January 2007 (UTC)

Expired link[edit]

A list of notable US cases relating to cruel and unusual punishment

Link removed, no longer directs people to the correct website, simply sends them directly to 14:11, 19 December 2006 (UTC)

Real cruel and unusual punishment today[edit]

forenote- some person with moniker - kybldmsstr with no knowledge whatsoever of the law or of Constitutional Law erased these pertinent paragraphs below...

In the US 1600s , e.g at Old Newgate Prison, near Granby, CT, the practice of intentional blinding was routinely used. This blinding can be done by passing a red hot iron before the eyes and even if the eyelids remainly tightly closed, the infrared radiation will go through and burn out the retina's permanently blinding the person. Such practices are surely cruel and unusual and beyond torture and are permanent, intentional maiming (that IS illegal, ladies).

Today, prisoners in maximum security prisons are held under a broad range of incarceration from what would be considered a healthy attempt to rehabilitate (see Minnesota pratice of allowing maximum security prisoners to be out of their cells (on good behavior) all day long and only be locked up during the nite (and while out, they may jog about a track, shoot basketball, lift weights, go to high school and some college classes, take ourses e.g. in painting (these painting classes have been largely credited with showing inmates from poor homes that they can be creative and be productive)

... to severest form of maximum security incarceration, which would mostly be considered surely "cruel and unusual" ... as Oklahoma's "H" (or Hell) block which is underground where inmates never ever receive any sunlight ever; and where inmates are allowed out of their small cells only once a month for 30 minutes of exercise. (contrast US prison history of the past, where usual confinement in maximum security prisons was where the entire block of cells faced a wall of windows allowing normal sunlight much of the day , etc.; and most such maximum security prisons allowed time outside in a "bull pen" for hours each day- that "bull pen" being outside in the sunlight).

Who voted to decide to remove all light and all freedom of any movement at all and all exercise at all in e.g. prisons as Oklahoma ?

Can it be "equal treatment" (under the law/under the US Constitution) for a prisoner to be in the Oklahoma "H" block underground with no sunlight ever, when another prisoner is in the Minnesota maximum security prison and outside all day in the sunlight etc ?

And, are "H" block prisons in and of themselves clearly "cruel and unusual punishment" banned by 8th Amendment as they frequently drive persons insane - a punishment not ever given by any sentence ?

These may be interesting questions, but have nothing to do with the article, which is what the talk page is for. I'd suggest finding a forum or blog somewhere to discuss this. Arthurrh 22:47, 11 October 2007 (UTC)
dear arthur blog, the article is exactly about what is and
what is not "cruel and unusal punishment" - which is exactly what
the above is discussing... where do they get you doodes who can't
think clearly enuf to read and discuss anything and only want
to attack any writer you don't know?
Yes, this article is about cruel and unusual punishment, it's not about deciding who is responsible for cell block H, deciding whether cell block H is equal treatment, etc. And I did not attack you, I merely suggested you stay on topic as is suggested in wiki policy. "Wikipedia is not the place for personal opinions, experiences, or arguments. Nor is it a soapbox..." So if you're trying to say "let's list cell block H as an example of cruel and unusual punishment" then sure, this is the place to discuss that, in the context of whether it fits the article, how to modify it, etc. If you just want to talk about cruel and unusual punishment, this is not the proper forum. Note the talk page header that says "This is the talk page for discussing improvements to the Cruel and unusual punishment article. This is not a forum for general discussion about the article's subject." Re the paragraphs in question, if youre goal is to include them in the article, then I'd suggest finding some good sources for them, this would go a long way toward ensuring their inclusion. Arthurrh 23:16, 11 October 2007 (UTC)
An analysis of the 6 paragraphs in question shows that
If you want to include this in the article, can you give info about your sources, for example for paragraphs 1,2,3 above. Arthurrh 23:24, 11 October 2007 (UTC)
I see that those paragraphs are indeed POV, but the information that's in it isn't POV, and should stay. Imagine a paragraph "The wall is red and many people are against this. This is an extremely inappropriate color for the wall, and definitely is one of the Most Controversial Walls 1900, without question." This paragraph is POV, and should be altered, but not removed completely, since the fact that "The wall is red and many people are against this" is valid. Likewise, these paragraphs need to be put back in a neutral, NPOV form. (talk) 21:07, 6 February 2011 (UTC)

Christ's View[edit]

Most court and prison officials would espouse to be surely Christian in the USA; but should they reflect at all about what Christ would think of the above practices of no sunlight , no exercise ever, no real attempt at all of any rehabilitation, no care at all for those then driven crazy ?

Ref. See Bible's predition that ALL prisoners WILL be released upon Christ's return in the Second Coming... (after being entirely healed to be normal and being told to go and sin no more).

What then of those who acted to imprison these persons in such conditions that are forgiven entirely ? Compare to Dachau ? Compare to star chambers ?

method of determination?[edit]

what determines if a punishment is cruel and unusual? possibly useful, or interesting, link (focuses on the US 8th amendment).Darker Dreams 01:30, 20 January 2007 (UTC)


Where precedent is concerned (for example, Supreme Court interpretation of both cruel and unusual, and not just one or the other), citations and references to individual cases would be most helpful.

Really a part of US law since inception?[edit]

Does anyone have a source for the claim that capital punishment has been part of the US law since the founding? LinuxMercedes (talk) 22:47, 27 November 2007 (UTC)

I've added a few refs Arthurrh (talk) 23:19, 27 November 2007 (UTC)


The section on impalement makes two contradictory statements. The third sentence says impalement leads to "rapid, painful, death." The sixth sentences says "Death could take many days." Which is the correct statement? BecauseWhy? (talk) 23:38, 19 May 2008 (UTC)

I've removed the infobox because the first statement in question has apparently been reversed. --Jesdisciple (talk) 00:16, 22 November 2008 (UTC)

European Law[edit]

Protocol 6 to the The European Convention on Human Rights, adopted in 1983, bans the death penalty.

--JamesWim (talk) 16:03, 17 July 2008 (UTC)


The part about impalement says in one sentence that the death is rapid, and in another that it could take many days. Which is it? --UberScienceNerd Talk Contributions 23:34, 23 July 2008 (UTC)

I was about to make the same comment, but it seems I have been beaten to it by a couple of months. Still, nothing has been done about this. While the layout of the paragraph might seem to imply that "Death could take many days" refers specifically to the case where the victim is hoisted in the air, I see no reason why this should have the effect of prolonging the victim's life in the slightest, let alone by days. On the other hand, I am no expert in this subject, so someone with a reliable source should probably take a look at this. Robin S (talk) 02:57, 29 September 2008 (UTC)

Be cruel to be kind --- dictionary of Wiki Idoms ???[edit]

To me, the statement has actually encouraged violences that are not supposed to happen. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:06, 27 November 2008 (UTC)

The statement itself shows the example from one extreme (CRUEL) to another (KIND) and —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:11, 27 November 2008 (UTC) any attachers of the violences occurred can use this excuse to defend themselves with the reasons that, they think, are rational

Decapitation "deliberately painful."[edit]

The current text suggests that decapitation is a "deliberately painful" form of execution. History suggests very much the opposite, that it was viewed as an exceptionally preferable method of execution from the condemned's view and that of society. Indeed, often it was reserved for members of the higher classes and even "bestowed" as a form of clemency. The text also suggests that it is a "severe" form of the death penalty--severe, I suppose, in relation to what? Death by dessert or old age? Poisoning? Shooting? But Time magazine is the source, so this is no surprise. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:29, 15 July 2009 (UTC)

Removed the [where?] tag in the Impalement section[edit]

The impalement section refers to the practice occurring in Europe and Asia during the middle ages, and says that Vlad the Impaler learned the practice from imprisonment in Constantinople/Istanbul. The reference to Asia had a 'where?' tag.

Since Constantinople effectively became Istanbul in 1453, when Vlad was 22, he would have been the prisoner of either the Byzantines or (much more likely, his traditional enemy) the Ottoman Turks. Both of these powers controlled hundreds of thousands of square miles of Asia during centuries-long stretches of the middle ages, along with Constantinople/Istanbul itself, which is in Europe. If either of these peoples practiced impalement during Vlad's lifetime, they did so in both Europe and Asia during the middle ages. QED.

According to the 1888 Encyclopedia Britannica article 'Mongols,' the Khanate practiced impalement in the mid 1200s, during which time they invaded Turkic lands. Whether or not the Turks could be said to have learned it from them (as the peoples of the Baltic region did), the Mongol empire extended from Manchuria to Poland to Arabia, which seems sufficient justification for the statement all by itself. Our article on impalement says that it was also traditional in Malay lands, and in at least some parts of India. Do we need a list? (talk) 02:57, 14 September 2010 (UTC)

Not just executions[edit]

I don't know why, but this article seems to strongly imply that all cruel and unusual punishments are death sentences. Is there any reason why there shouldn't be other less extreme examples added? (talk) 20:56, 6 February 2011 (UTC)

Yeah, like Soybeans. Hcobb (talk) 16:15, 12 November 2011 (UTC)
So incredibly trivial that youj shouldn't even be noting it here, Hcobb. --OuroborosCobra (talk) 17:54, 12 November 2011 (UTC)

It is at least two federal cases on the exact nature of the constitutional implications. Hcobb (talk) 16:17, 14 November 2011 (UTC)

Discussion of punishments[edit]

Why are there detailed descriptions of the punishments here? They already have their own pages. This article should outline definitions of "cruel and unusual punishments" but not the definition of the punishments there named. Also, surely some mention should be given to the colloquial use of the term "cruel and unusual" as the legacy of this legal term/impact on culture and society? (talk) 23:04, 5 June 2011 (UTC)

Concur. While these may be excellent examples of "cruel and unusual punishments," the list with links should do the job just fine. And why describe just two? Frankly, we don't need this kind of loving attention to horrific detail on this page: if you want to describe cruel and unusual punishments, do it on their individual pages. I'm going to remove these examples.
*Septegram*Talk*Contributions* 22:08, 27 August 2011 (UTC)
Removed. If I have time after I graduate, I may come back and see if I can expand this section. If not, I'm sure there are competent editors aplenty who can do the work.
*Septegram*Talk*Contributions* 22:13, 27 August 2011 (UTC)

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