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Bible Law vs. the U.S. Constitution: Bail, Fines, & Cruel and Unusual Punishments?

Bible Law vs. the U.S. Constitution: Bail, Fines, & Cruel and Unusual Punishments?

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Christians should endorse capital punishment, at least when it is carried out according to Yahweh’s laws, preferably by a Christian government (Romans 13:1-7), based upon the testimony of two or more witnesses (Deuteronomy 17:6-7), and with the stipulation that perjurers be put to death (Deuteronomy 19:18-21). The death penalty must be administered in a timely manner (Ecclesiastes 8:11), and stoning should be the preferable method of execution (Leviticus 20:2, etc.).
Christians should endorse capital punishment, at least when it is carried out according to Yahweh’s laws, preferably by a Christian government (Romans 13:1-7), based upon the testimony of two or more witnesses (Deuteronomy 17:6-7), and with the stipulation that perjurers be put to death (Deuteronomy 19:18-21). The death penalty must be administered in a timely manner (Ecclesiastes 8:11), and stoning should be the preferable method of execution (Leviticus 20:2, etc.).

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Published by: Mission to Israel Ministries on Mar 05, 2010
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01/19/2013

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Bible Law vs. The U.S. Constitution:A Christian PerspectiveTed R. WeilandChapter 17
Amendment 8Bail
,
Fines
,
& Cruel and
 
Unusual Punishments?
Section 1
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
Amendment 8 is almost word for word the same prohibition found in Article 10 of the 1689 English Billof Rights. George Mason included the same language in the 1776 Virginia Bill of Rights, and theConfederation Congress incorporated these prohibitions into the Northwest Ordinance of 1787.
Bail
Bail consists of property, usually money, pledged to the court as surety, or a guarantee, on behalf of adefendant, so he might be released from custody until his innocence or guilt is decided in a court of law.This, of course, is with the understanding that the defendant will return for trial:
Bail is cash or cash equivalent that an arrested person gives to the court to ensure that he or shewill appear in court when ordered to do so. If the defendant appears in court at the proper time, thecourt refunds the bail. But if the defendant doesn’t show up, the court keeps the bail and issues awarrant for the defendant’s arrest.Judges are responsible for setting bail. Because many people want to get out of jail immediately(instead of waiting up to five days to see a judge), most jails have standard bail schedules thatspecify bail amounts for common crimes. An arrested person can get out of jail quickly by payingthe amount set forth in the bail schedule.The Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution requires that bail not be excessive. This meansthat bail should not be used to raise money for the government or to punish a person for beingsuspected of committing a crime. Remember: The purpose of bail is to allow the arrested person toremain free until convicted of a crime, and the amount of bail must be no more than is reasonablynecessary to keep the suspect from fleeing before a case is over.
1
Posting bail, of course, cannot guarantee the defendant will not default on his promise to appear in court(what is commonly known as jumping bail). Consequently, this constitutional allowance puts manycriminals back on the streets. Even those who do return to face charges have free reign to continue in their criminal activity while released on bail:
…only a very small percentage of criminals are ever convicted and sent to prison…. One case wascited of a man who was arrested for armed robbery and released on bond [bail]. During the nextfour months, while free on bond, he was arrested five times on various charges ranging from pettylarceny to car theft. Finally he pleaded guilty to attempted petty theft and was again released toawait sentencing.
2
 
Although Amendment 8 does not specifically provide for bail, it bans
only
excessive bail, withoutdefining what is excessive. Consequently, except for states in which bail schedules are pre-assigned, whatis or is not excessive is left to the arbitrary decisions of each judge in any given case. Congress passed theJudiciary Act of 1789, which specified to which types of crimes bail could be applied and how these wereto be determined:
…upon all arrests in criminal cases, bail shall be admitted, except where the punishment may bedeath, in which cases it shall not be admitted but by the supreme or a circuit court, or by a justiceof the supreme court, or a judge of a district court, who shall exercise their discretion therein,regarding the nature and circumstances of the offence, and of the evidence, and the usages of law.
3
In 1966 and 1984, bail reform acts were passed:
In 1966, Congress enacted the Bail Reform Act of 1966 which states that
a non
-
capitaldefendant is to be released
,
pending trial
,
on his personal recognizance or on personal bond
,unless the judicial officer determines that such incentives will not adequately assure hisappearance at trial. In that case, the judge must select an alternative from a list of conditions, suchas restrictions on travel.
Individuals charged with a capital crime
,
or who have been convictedand are awaiting sentencing or appeal
,
are to be released
unless the judicial officer has reasonto believe that no conditions will reasonably assure that the person will not flee or pose a danger.
In non
-
capital cases
,
the Act does not permit a judge to consider a suspect
s danger to thecommunity
, only in capital cases or after conviction is the judge authorized to do so.The 1966 Act was particularly criticized within the District of Columbia, where all crimesformerly fell under Federal bail law.
In a number of instances
,
persons accused of violentcrimes committed additional crimes when released on their personal recognizance
.
Theseindividuals were often released yet again
….In 1984 Congress replaced the Bail Reform Act of 1966 with new bail law…. The maininnovation of the new law is that it allows pre-trial detention of individuals based upon their danger to the community; under prior law and traditional bail statutes in the U.S., pre-trialdetention was to be based solely upon the risk of flight.18 USC 3142(f) provides that only persons who fit into certain categories are subject to detentionwithout bail: persons charged with a crime of violence, an offense for which the maximumsentence is life imprisonment or death, certain drug offenses for which the maximum offense isgreater than 10 years, repeat felony offenders, or if the defendant poses a serious risk of flight,obstruction of justice, or witness tampering. There is a special hearing held to determine whether the defendant fits within these categories;
anyone not within them must be admitted to bail
.
4
Even the 1984 Act provided bail opportunities for anyone, based upon the decisions of a finite judge.Because bail is only necessary when expeditious adjudication cannot be guaranteed, the framers musthave recognized that the system they were instituting could not deliver the “speedy trials” allegedly provided for in Amendment 6. In other words, bail is only required in slow, overburdened judicialsystems, as found in the United States Constitutional Republic. (SeeChapter 1 5for more regarding theConstitution’s inability to provide swift litigation.) The contradiction between the Sixth Amendment’s provision for speedy trials and the Eighth Amendment’s provision for bail is but another of many waysthat proves the United States Constitution is inherently flawed.On the other hand, Yahweh’s
5
law does not provide for bail. When government is based upon His perfectlaws, both trials and punishment are meted out swiftly, if not immediately. Consequently, bail (like prison) is superfluous.
 
The downside to Yahweh’s no-bail system is that there will be occasions when innocent men incur short-term incarcerations while awaiting trial. Still, it is much better that a few innocent men should suffer incarceration, rather than that many innocent victims should suffer at the hand of criminals who areallowed to roam free by way of an unbiblical, criminal-enabling bail system. Under Yahweh’s NinthCommandment safeguards (see Chapter 14for the six judicial safeguards), false accusations, and thus false imprisonments, would be virtually nonexistent.Furthermore, the Bible warns against becoming surety for another person, which rules out providing bailon behalf of a stranger, or a friend:
My son, if thou be surety for thy friend, if thou hast stricken thy hand with a stranger, thou artsnared with the words of thy mouth, thou art taken with the words of thy mouth. Do this now, myson, deliver thyself, when thou art come into the hand of thy friend; go, humble thyself, and makesure [importune,
 NASB
] thy friend. Give not sleep to thine eyes, nor slumber to thine eyelids.Deliver thyself as a roe from the hand of the hunter, and as a bird from the hand of the fowler.(Proverbs 6:1-5)
6
He that is surety for a stranger shall smart for it: and he that hateth suretiship is sure [safe,
 NASB
].(Proverbs 11:15)A man void of understanding striketh hands, and becometh surety in the presence of his friend.(Proverbs 17:18)Be not thou one of them that strike hands, or of them that are sureties for debts. (Proverbs 22:26)
Like other non-biblical governments, the United States Constitutional Republic provides for measuresthat Yahweh condemns.Surety contracts are folly for both parties (particularly those involving suspects and convicted criminals) because trust is being placed in a finite man who cannot guarantee he will be alive to uphold his part of the bargain even one day later. Martin Luther commented upon the person who becomes surety for another man:
…his own life and property are never for a single moment any more secure or certain than those of the man for whom he becomes surety.
7
Becoming surety demands that a person guarantees the future of another person, a presumption the Bibleidentifies as arrogance:
Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth. (Proverbs 27:1)It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.(Acts 1:7)Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year,and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what isyour life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that yeought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. But now ye rejoice in your  boastings: all such rejoicing is evil. (James 4:13-16)
Providing bail on behalf of someone is worse because it vainly attempts to guarantee another’s man’sintegrity.
Fines

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