Race

Race, socio-economic status and cruel and unusual punishment are all inter-related. Social labeling is a precursor to racial profiling which is an extreme version of social labeling. Racial profiling has raised public awareness of the inappropriate labeling of minorities. This stigma of social labeling often creates self-fulfilling prophecies. In most instances, this is due to lower-socio-economic status. The majority of those convicted and incarcerated are minorities. The Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution states: “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” This amendment serves as a check and balance of the federal government imposing harsh penalties on criminals. The Cruel and Unusual Punishment clause prohibits “barbaric” methods of punishment. However, what constitutes cruel and unusual punishment has underlying factors such as a race and socio-economic status. Within the American Judicial System, the main area where race is prevalent is in drug arrests and convictions. Socio-economic status has determined status in America for a long time. Race and socio-economic status are both factors that often determine punishment within the American Criminal Justice system. However, it is cruel and unusual to base punishment for a crime on anything other than the crime committed. A punishment is unusual when it is unequal to the punishment received by those of different races and socio-economic status. The incarceration of minorities is cruel and unusual because it takes a race of people and imprisons them with self-fulfilling prophecies. Minorities have already been arrested because of race, convicted because of socio-economic status and sentenced with cruel and unusual punishment even before they have committed a crime.

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