Cruel and Unusual Punishment: Rights and Liberties Under the Law
In one of the lengthiest, noisiest, and hottest legal debates in U.S. history, Cruel and Unusual Punishment stands out as a levelheaded, even-handed, and thorough analysis of the issue.
The Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution created one of the nation's most valued freedoms but, at the same time, one of its most persistent controversies. On 184 separate occasions, the Supreme Court attempted to decide what constitutes "cruel and unusual punishment."
Constitutional scholars Joseph A. Melusky and Judge Keith A. Pesto help readers make sense of the controversy. The authors begin by sketching the context of the debate in a general overview that addresses issues such as excessive bails and fines, and noncapital offenses. But their primary focus is capital punishment. In a detailed, chronologically ordered discussion, they trace the evolving opinion of the nation's highest court from the late 19th century to the present, analyzing issues, arguments, holdings, and outcomes.
* A focused list of primary source documents includes the Magna Carta, the Northwest Ordinance, the 5th, 8th, and 14th Amendments, and excerpts from the Federalist Papers
* Appendixes include tables and charts on public opinion on the death penalty, state statistics, federal sentencing guidelines, and a bibliography
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