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The 8th Amendment-Cruel & Unusual Punishment

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The Putney Public Library continues its popular series, Debating our Rights, with the 8th Amendment: Cruel and Unusual Punishment. This summer, the series will cover Amendments 7 through 11. Join Meg Mott, professor of politics at Marlboro College and Putney Town Moderator for this lively presentation and discussion. Note: Video coverage of this series began with Amendment 7.


The Eighth Amendment prohibits cruel and unusual punishment.  As a matter of law, the state cannot engage in arbitrary or extreme punishment. As a matter of practice, however, states exert all sorts of cruelty, such as solitary confinement and lethal injection. Many argue that racial and economic disparity within the criminal justice system violates the Unusual Clause. How is it constitutional to punish one class of citizens more severely than another class?On Tuesday June 26 at 7PM, the Putney Public Library will resume its series, Debating Our Rights, which looks at how the United States Supreme Court has framed the constitutional debate. “A constitutional democracy depends on deliberation,” explains Meg Mott, professor of politics at Marlboro College, “which means that ordinary people need to be able to discuss legal matters.” Audience members will have a chance to weigh and consider each side of the argument and to consider alternative frameworks.With the help of the Putney Library Trustees, Mott organized a series that provides opportunities for community members to debate constitutional issues. “We’re lucky in Vermont to have Town Meeting,” explained Mott, “but that once a year activity does not a citizenry make. Determining the meaning of civil rights should not be ceded to legal professionals.”The Debating Our Rights series will continue on the last Tuesday of each month through the summer. 

Recorded by Janis Chaillou and edited by Em Richards.

Production Date: 
Tuesday, June 26, 2018 - 11:15