University of Baltimore Law Review


The Eighth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States· contains three clauses designed to protect citizens from the government's power to prosecute: the prohibition of Excessive Bail, Excessive. Fines, and Cruel and Unusual Punishment. The Eighth Amendment, although historically applied to criminal prosecutions and "direct actions initiated by government to inflict punishment," has recently been held to apply in the civil arena as well. In Austin v. United States, the Supreme Court of the United States concluded that "forfeiture generally and statutory in rem forfeiture in particular historically have been understood, at least in part, as punishment." Accordingly, the Court held that modern statutory forfeiture, pursuant to the commission of drug offenses, constituted punishment and was subject to the limitations of the Excessive Fines Clause of the Eighth Amendment.

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