publication . Preprint . Article . Other literature type . 2018

Constitutional Liberty and the Progression of Punishment

Smith, R. J.; Zoe Robinson;
  • Published: 27 Mar 2018
Abstract
<p>102 Cornell L. Rev. 413 (2017)The Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment has long been interpreted by scholars and judges to provide very limited protections for criminal defendants. This understanding of the Eighth Amendment claims that the prohibition is operationalized mostly to prevent torturous methods of punishment or halt the isolated use of a punishment practice that has fallen into long-term disuse. This Article challenges these assumptions. It argues that while this limited view of the Eighth Amendment may be accurate as a historical matter, over the past two decades, the Supreme Court has incrementally broadened the scope of...
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Other literature type . 2018
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Preprint . 2018
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II. THE ORIGINS AND ASCENDENCY OF EIGHTH AMENDMENT LIBERTY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 438 A. Imposition of Substantive Limits on Offender and Crime Classes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 439 1. The Shift Away from the “Super Due Process” Procedural Regulations . . . . . . . . . . . 439 2. The Shift Away from Case-Specific Proportionality Review . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 442 3. The Shift Toward Categorical Exemptions from Punishment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 444 B. The Shift from Policing Randomness to Curbing Retributive Excess . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 446 1. The Shift Away from Randomness . . . . . . . . . 447 2. The Shift Toward Curbing Retributive Excess . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 448 C. The Move to a Functional Assessment of Societal Standard of Decency . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 451

III. LIBERTY AS A CONSTITUTIONAL VALUE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 456 IV. LOOKING AHEAD: LIBERTY AND THE MODERNIZATION OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE IN AMERICA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 468 A. Reinventing the Eighth Amendment . . . . . . . . . . . 469 1. Life Without Parole for Juvenile Homicide Offenders . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 469 2. Life Without Parole for Nonviolent Drug Offenders . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 472 3. The Death Penalty . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 475 B. Tensions and Possible Limitations . . . . . . . . . . . . 480 1. When the Typical Usage Indicators Are Unavailable: Mandatory Minimum Sentences . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 480 2. When the Typical Usage Indicators Are Inapplicable: Solitary Confinement . . . . . . . . . 482

CONCLUSION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 485

for people serving a life sentence. See Sentencing Reform Act of 1984, Pub. L. No.

98-473, 98 Stat. 2019, 2069 (1987) (codified as amended in scattered sections of

18 U.S.C. and 28 U.S.C.). New or expanded federal laws came in '86, '87, and '94.

See U.S. SENTENCING COMM'N, The Sentencing Reform Act of 1984: Principal Fea-

simplification/simplification-draft-paper-2 [https://perma.cc/4KAL-AR4Y].

299 See OFFICE OF JUSTICE PROGRAMS, U.S. DEP'T OF JUSTICE, CRITICAL CRIMINAL

ATTORNEY GENERAL JANET RENO vii (1995), https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles/

158837.pdf [https://perma.cc/X3BJ-AG6J]; see also Jeffrey M. Jones, Americans

Perceive Increased Crime in U.S., GALLUP (Oct. 14, 2009), http://www.gallup.com/

poll/123644/americans-perceive-increased-crime.aspx [https://perma.cc/PJ8L-

9P7C] (reporting on polling data showing respondents believed crime is

300 See Begay v. United States, 553 U.S. 137, 146 (2008) (“As suggested by its

28 references, page 1 of 2
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publication . Preprint . Article . Other literature type . 2018

Constitutional Liberty and the Progression of Punishment

Smith, R. J.; Zoe Robinson;