Justice in America

This assignment asks you to reflect on how the various constitutional protections afforded persons accused and convicted of crimes help to preserve and improve our American democracy. The central question you need to answer is: What benefits to our system of government and society at large derive from vigorous enforcement of the constitutional protections enshrined in the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendments to the United States Constitution?

First, select four of the specific protections set forth in these amendments and devote a few sentences each to explaining how they operate. (You don’t have to choose one from each amendment; your four choices may come from any of the amendments, in any combination or order.) Here, I want you to demonstrate what you learned about what these protections actually protect against.

Second, describe what the Framers of the Constitution were trying to accomplish by granting these individual legal protections. Why give so many rights to “criminals”? What were the underlying purposes of these constitutional protections? Why, in 1787-88, was it so important to the states that a Bill of Rights be added to the Constitution that they demanded a promise to that effect before they agreed to ratify it?

This assignment is worth 20% of your final grade. Please feel invited to express yourselves freely. You are being assessed on the seriousness of your effort and the thought that you put into this. Originality, depth of thought, honesty, a willingness to stretch are what count.

Your paper should be 3 full double-spaced typewritten pages.

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550 words
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