Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
-the Eighth Amendment
Ah yes another Liberal favorite. Well let's start off with the obvious. What standards are we measuring this by? See if you go down to San Diego, more specifically to Coronado you will see lots of young men linking arms in the surf then doing "sugar cookies" and running all over the damn place. To be clear BUD/s is one of the most extreme challenges in the world and it is quite cruel when a day into Hell Week you're pulled because of shin splints (which happens a LOT) Indeed a lot of the training up till that point is designed to torment the men crazy stupid or foolish enough to think they have what it takes to wear the Trident. If you can somehow get to Camp Darby in Georgia you will see the same damn thing with the Ranger Cadets. Go to Lackland AFB and you will see PJ trainees getting the ever loving shit smoked out of them. What about Paris Island or Ft Benning Georgia and the hell they put recruits through? I'm not going to even begin to touch SERE school. Go look up the full course those SF guys have to go through some time. It is quite literally hell on Earth.
My standards for "Cruel and Unusual" are simply put quite a bit greater than what has become acceptable in the legal arena. Recently because of overcrowding in California Prisons the 8th Circuit court of appeals ordered that as many as 30,000 prisoners be released. Now I looked for what was so terrible about their living conditions. They were living in open bays in bunk beds three high. So obviously the Court has never seen the inside of Enlisted Berths on a Carrier or Submarine. I might understand if the prisoners were literally dropping like flies of starvation, or They were being whipped into submission but even that is not happening. The court obviously did not consider the ramifications of releasing 30,000 criminals early many of whom will no doubt offend again.
If I showed pictures of some of the hooches I lived in in Iraq, you would have to say that it's pretty cruel to expect someone to live there. I still have nightmares about those damn camel spiders, and lets not even begin to talk about the mice, and rats that would crawl all over my damn sleeping bag, and unless they built a prison in Barstow or Death Valley, I'm pretty sure most of the prisoners never had to deal with the kind of ungodly heat I did. I am all for making sure you're innocent until proven guilty but once you're found guilty you have a debt to society, and personally I do not think it unreasonable for you to work that debt off.
Having said that this was designed to protect you from getting a bail you couldn't possibly pay. Say a street sweeper is accused of petty larceny, he should not have to receive a bail of $2.2 million. It is also designed so that you are not beaten every night, or that your fingers are chopped off, or any number of things that can and do happen when a vindictive mob, or s snobbish king declares punishment. It would be utterly insane to say cut off someone's hand (*cough* *cough*) for petty theft, that would be cruel. But unusual? Well forcing someone to stand outside with a sign to be publicly humiliated, is that unusual? Well technically yes, but as Judges are getting ever more exasperated at the lack of effect their sentences are having, you might see this approach being used more often.
My Take: Well I've been painfully obvious that my standards are perhaps a little higher for what merits cruelty. We need a clear and impartial measuring stick to say yea or Nay, this is good or this is bad. Much like Waterboarding we may be faced with tough choices. I believe that Waterboarding which only happened a handful of times to the most hardened Terrorists is not torture per se. You will feel no lasting ill effects and the whole process is monitored by teams of doctors. Ordering Waterboarding for say a guy that stole a TV that's a bit extreme. I also tend to think that removal of body parts is a bit extreme, though I am in favor of either chemical or surgical castration of repeat sex offenders. Like I said my standards are a bit higher that somebody whose never had to deal with the realities of the world outside CONUS.