This amendment keeps us from being held with excessive punishment.
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
This means we cannot be put to death for stealing a loaf of bread. We also can't be held on a million dollars bond for that same loaf of bread.
Most Americans agree that the punishment should fit the crime. Petty theft shouldn't carry decades in prison. Rape should carry more than 6 months.
Most of the time when this particular amendment is debated, we tend to be angry about the lack of punishment. We tend to be discussing how an accused rapist is later discovered to be wrongly convicted, but the accuser isn't charged, or the punishment is lighter.
Another debate is how one person of a certain race is given a lighter sentence than those of other races. Punishments must all fit their respective crimes regardless of skin color or gender.
This amendment is supposed to keep us from being punished harshly for a minor crime, though. There are other laws that are meant to handle punishments being different for groups based on gender or race.