Protection from Cruel and Unusual Punishment Self-Quiz










Chris is convicted of illegal hacking. He is sentenced to 25 hours of community service and 15 lashes of the whip. Is this cruel and unusual punishment?
Choice 1 Yes, because corporal punishment of this type is grossly disproportionate to the offense for which Chris has been convicted.
Choice 2 Yes, because corporal punishment of this type is always “cruel and unusual.”
Choice 3 No, because of the significant losses endured by American companies each year due to illegal hackers.
Choice 4 No, because when the Eight Amendment was written there were no computers so the limitation on “cruel and unusual punishment” is inapplicable.
Chris’ brother, Jim, is convicted of computer hacking the following year. Hacking has become a common crime among minors, and the threat of spending some time in juvenile detention centers does not seem to work as a deterrent. The legislature passes a law granting judges broad discretion in sentencing minors convicted of hacking, hoping that this will reduce the costs of hacking which are traditionally passed on to computer consumers.. At sentencing, Judge O. D. Nater orders Jimmy to stand outside the computer store in his local mall for 2 weekends holding a sign which says “I love my computer more than I love you.” The sign also had a graphic illustration implying that Jimmy was engaged in a sexual act with a computer. Will the sentence withstand Eighth Amendment scrutiny?
Choice 1 Yes, because the punishment is intended to expose Jim to the true victims of his crime – computer consumers.
Choice 2 Yes, because the Judge was exercising his legislatively granted authority.
Choice 3 No, because the sign is excessively demeaning.
Choice 4 No, because it was not proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Jim loves his computer in that way.
The state of Arklahoma passes a law stating that “any person found guilty of contracting HIV/AIDS shall be punished by a fine of not more than $500 and by service to the community of not more than 100 hours.” Judges, of course, have the discretion to impose a far smaller fine and far fewer hours of community service.

Evaluate the following statement: This statute violates the Eighth Amendment guarantee against cruel and unusual punishment.

Choice 1 TRUE, because imposing punishment for certain “offenses” is in itself cruel and unusual, regardless of the punishment imposed.
Choice 2 FALSE, because Judges have the discretion to impose only a light sentence which would not rise to the level of cruel and unusual.
Eddie is convicted of bilking unsuspecting elderly folks out of thousands of dollars by running several different cons. He is sentenced to serve 50 hours of community service in a local retirement home. Eddie objects, offering to pay a fine or do time, arguing that he can’t stand the smell of mothballs. Nonetheless, the judge imposes his original sentence. Does Eddie have a Constitutional claim available?
Choice 1 Yes, because his high sensitivity to mothballs makes the punishment cruel and unusual.
Choice 2 Yes, because Eddie offered to agree to a more traditional sentence of a fine or imprisonment, and a judge may not impose an unusual sentence in favor of the more commonly imposed sentences.
Choice 3 No, because Eddie does not have a documented allergy to mothballs.
Choice 4 No, because the punishment is neither degrading nor disproportionate to the crime.

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