The Eighth Amendment, Bill of Rights, and The Bail Bond Industry.

The eighth amendment is a precept the bail bonds industry uses primarily as its “raison d’etre” – or reason to be in business today. Taking the overview of the big picture the amendment states that excessive fines and punishment (both cruel and unusual) shall not be inflicted. There are 10 amendments to the constitution of the United States entitled the Bill of Rights – your Bill of Rights.

For a better overview of this amendment, we need to look at the history and the development of our laws, our constitution and our bill of rights: how they came into existence and how the bail industry sustains your rights.

Before we launch into a full explanation, we’ll need to take some incremental steps from 1215 ad to the 21st century – that’s about 800 years! We’ll need to understand a few more of the proclamations authored by the english, who championed individual freedoms, and those doctrines that eventually produced our eighth amendment, which is embedded in our constitution today.

What’s a “Magna Carta?”

Although not surprising, the origins of individual freedoms came from jolly old england in the form of the Magna Carta in 1215 ad. This document was the precursor to our current laws. It promised the people of England the right to good and fair laws by limiting the king’s supreme power. In addition, the magna carta stated that all people shall have full access to the courts. At first, the magna carta declared that ‘no freeman’ shall be imprisoned without going through proper legal channels. Later it was changed to ‘no one’ that included everyone – just to be politically fair.

Monarchs, Bishops, and Noblemen – Oh My!

​The English realized they needed to establish rules that governed and protected the people from many unscrupulous monarchs, bishops, and noblemen: those who may not have wanted certain people released from jail. Those people, under some rulers could have remained in jail without ever knowing or hearing their alleged crime.

So, the next important date and document to come from the English that addressed individual freedoms came about in 1275 ad. In 1275 ad the English, concluding the newly formed magna carta needed oversight, came up with another document: the statute of westminster, or the statute laws of England, which was a judiciary arm that administered to the new laws. Soon, a court system began to evolve with the magna carta as its base component.  Oversight became the watchword and a cornerstone for all future doctrines.

More Twists and Turns …

Now everything seems to be moving along, but here comes another twist. It took another 464 years for the English to form the writ of Habeas Corpus in 1679. The two words, habeas corpus, literally translated means ‘you [shall] have the body’. Within this document unlawful detainment was further defined and the word bailable enters into the mix. The definition of that word meant that a crime/criminal (excluding murder / murderer), should be eligible and receive bail.

The writ prevented long periods of detainment for those accused, thus expediently moving them into the court system for trial. It mandated under extreme penalty that judges bring forth the body to court in a timely manner.

So what Does The Eighth Amendment Got To Do With Me?

Ok, we haven’t quite answered that question, “what is the eighth amendment,” but we’re close. Another few years pass in England and in 1689 the English bill of rights was enacted. It’s just a stronger document wrapped around the magna carta and the writ of habeas corpus. Again it addresses excessive bail, cruel and unusual punishment, excessive fines and bail that should not be required. ​Meanwhile, across the pond, the newly formed United States wrote their version, which is the constitution of the United States of America.

It was written in 1788 and became the supreme law of the land. It had oversight from a congressional body, which was then called the congress of the confederation. This congress brought about the bill of rights in 1791, just like the English bill of rights, that controlled various power seats and protected the rights of people and those imprisoned. Twelve amendments were whittled down to ten and the eighth amendment, which is the personification of England’s stand on individual freedoms, addressed the issue of excessive bail, fines and cruel and unusual punishment.​​

I Want Out and I Want Out Now!

Today, bail schedules are governed and set by judges. However, when judges impose excessive bails and fines, they are quickly put in check by attorneys who dispute the legality of the judge’s decision. In fact, a writ of habeas corpus can be enacted to challenge excessive bail, as well as unreasonable incarceration.

We witness this historical resolve for individual freedom in our courtrooms daily – that excessive bail, cruel and unusual punishment shall not be imposed. Once a person’s bail is established, a bail bondsman can submit a bail bond to obtain the release of the prisoner, thus excessive incarceration is avoided. In short, a bail bond becomes one of the tools that enforce the eighth amendment!