- The Eighth Amendment of our U.S. Constitution states: “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” The following website includes two dueling essays regarding the application of the Eighth Amendment’s “Cruel and Unusual Punishment” Clause, the contemporary perspective essay by Bryan A. Stevenson and the original-meaning essay by John F. Stinneford, https://constitutioncenter.org/interactive-constitution/amendments/amendment-viii. Which view do you believe is the correct view and why?
- Then, respond to the posts of at least two (2) other peers with comments that continue to drive the discussion.
Week 5 Hot Topic: Extra Credit
A small-town Arkansas police chief is out of a job this week after letting his MAGA rip on social media on Friday night, advocating for violence against Democrats in response to baseless claims they were stealing the presidential election.
Lang Holland, the police chief of Marshall, Ark., shared the posts on Parler, a Twitter-like app popular among and targeted toward conservatives (yes, someone found a way to make something even worse than Twitter). Among the posts was a meme likening the 2020 election to the Revolutionary War
“Death to all Marxist Democrats,” Holland wrote on Friday, under his own name and likeness. “Take no prisoners leave no survivors!!” Do not go to sleep. Do not forget what these Marxist Democrat bastards have tried to do,” Holland wrote in another post. “When you see one in public get in their face do not give them any peace. Throw water on them at restaurants. Push them off sidewalks. Never let them forget they are traitors and have no right to live in this Republic after what they have done.”
It likely didn’t help that Holland had already made news this year for publicly criticizing Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) for issuing a mask mandate for the state in July.
Holland defied the order and said he wouldn’t enforce it. He also implied that following the public safety protocol would lead to the United States decline into a “failed communist state” according to KATV.
As you might expect, people took issue with a person charged with protecting the public hopping online and advocating for flagrant violence, but the story took one more twist before Marshall Mayor Kevin Elliott called Holland into his office.
What are your thoughts?
In November 1983, 14-year-old DeWitt Duckett was shot in the neck in a Baltimore high school over his Georgetown Starter jacket.
Three 16-year-old boys were arrested on Thanksgiving Day 1983 and charged with the murder. Alfred Chestnut, Ransom Watkins and Andrew Stewart were convicted and sentenced to life in prison.
The three, now in their 50s, were all released from prison on Monday fully exonerated after spending 36 years incarcerated for a murder they didn’t commit.
“On behalf of the criminal justice system, and I’m sure this means very little to you, I’m going to apologize,” Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Charles Peters said. People in the courtroom erupted in applause as he declared them innocent, The Washington Post reports.
In May, Chestnut had written a letter to Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, along with evidence incriminating the man now believed to have been the actual shooter, and asked for her office’s Conviction Integrity Unit to reexamine the case as a wrongful conviction.
Investigators reinterviewed witnesses and looked anew at the evidence, and Mosby’s office says the findings were troubling: Witnesses were coached and coerced by investigators to say they’d seen the three, after twice failing to pick them out of a lineup. Witnesses identified a different young person as the shooter, but police instead focused on Chestnut, Watkins and Stewart. Defense attorneys had asked for evidence that might exonerate their clients, but prosecutors had said they had none. The man now suspected of committing the murder was shot to death in 2002.
“Present day, all four of those witnesses have recanted,” Assistant State’s Attorney Lauren Lipscomb told the judge, according to The Baltimore Sun. “There is evidence of coerced pretrial preparation. The exonerations bring to nine the number of people freed since 2015 owing to the efforts of the Conviction Integrity Unit, a division dedicated to uncovering wrongful convictions. The unit is funded by a federal grant and works in partnership with the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project and the University of Baltimore’s Innocence Project Clinic.
“These three men were convicted, as children, because of police and prosecutorial misconduct. What the state, my office, did to them is wrong. There is no way we can ever repair the damage done to them. We can’t be scared of that and we must confront it,” Mosby said. “I want to thank these men from the bottom of my heart for persevering for decades to prove their innocence. They deserve so much more than an apology.” Mosby says she will push for state legislation that would require the state to provide compensation for exonerees.
What are your thoughts about exonerated inmates who sometimes spend decades behind bars? Should they be compensated? If so, how would you calculate what is owed to that person, and if there is evidence of Police and Prosecutorial misconduct, what should happen in regard to that?