For this week’s Assignment you will create a minimum 10 slide (excluding the title and reference slides) PowerPoint presentation. In your presentation, demonstrate how the Bill of Rights is applied in major criminal justice cases. You must incorporate speaker notes as part of this presentation which contains notes that you would utilize if presenting to a live audience.
Include at least one slide for each of the following Amendments explaining how each is applied to criminal cases.
Discuss the historical context of why these Amendments were created as rights to protect individuals.
Research the Eighth Amendment and advocate a position both for and against the Eighth Amendment regardless of your personal beliefs. Based on your research and personal beliefs, conclude this presentation by choosing a position either for or against the Eighth Amendment (or possibly a combination of the two). Provide rationale for your reasoning.
Creative Project-The Bill of Rights
The Bill of Rights refers to the initial amendments made on the United States Constitution. These amendments were part of long protracted push for ratification of the United States Constitution during the late 1780s. The Bill of Rights is fundamental in that it guarantees basic rights and freedoms to individuals. The Bill of Rights also checks the state’s power in judicial proceedings. This is important so as to prevent the government from abuse of power. The Bill of Rights also categorically spells out the powers of the Congress. Prior to the introduction of the Bill of Rights, loopholes existed which could be used by the government to exploit people. The Bill of Rights was thus established to seal the loopholes by outlining limits on the powers of the federal government. Due to the above, the Bill of Rights is applied in solving major criminal justice issues.
The First Amendment addresses the rights to freedom, petitions and assembly. With regard to religion, the amendment makes it clear that Congress should not curtail religious freedom, and neither should it make laws establishing a religion. This gives the federal government neutrality in matters concerning religion. The amendment also declares the freedom to speech and free press. Lastly, it gives people the right to assemble for peaceful reasons and to petition the government. In addition, individuals have the right to petition government agencies. In criminal proceedings, the courts applies the first amendment while giving the defendant the right to hearing in a fair trial and by a just jury. The press and the public is free to attend legal proceedings. However, the courts determines whether cases should be heard in confidentiality depending on its nature (Bedford, 2008). The free press clause guides a variety of media.
The Second Amendment gives establishes the “right to keep and bear arms.” This amendment has been interpreted to mean that U.S. citizens have the right to bear or keep arms for self-defense purposes (Bedford, 2008). With regard to the phrase “A well-regulated Militia”, scholars point that this amendment was meant for state. As such, no law would prohibit the state from establishing self-defense mechanisms. For long, majority of courts have upheld that citizens are not constitutionally entitled to bear arms. However, no gun control law has ever been invalidated. In criminal justice, the amendment is interpreted that the people have the right to bear arms for self-defense. Thus individuals can protect themselves against criminal violence in situations where the societal bodies appointed to do so fail. Thus in criminal proceedings, a person who commits murder out of self-defense is given a linient punishment.
The Fifth Amendment protects the people against self-incrimination and double jeopardy. The amendment also guarantees individuals the right to grand jury. The “due process of law” should be applied in any legal proceedings that may deny an individual certain rights such as right to liberty, life and property. The government should also provide due compensation to any citizen who gives private property for public use. In criminal justice, due process means that criminal proceedings should be fairly applied upon all suspected persons. This amendment thus protects individuals from the government. This amendment also prevents the national government from seizing private property without following the due process. It also protects individuals from being coerced into incriminating themselves. It also establishes that defendants should be made aware of their rights to an attorney before interrogation.
The Eighth Amendment is important in criminal justice cases since it is concerned with the manner in which punishment should be meted out to persons found guilty. According to the amendment, The amendment also curtails giving excessive fines and penalties. For instance, cruel and unusual punishments should not be meted out on individuals convicted of any crime. For example, poor prison conditions may constitute unusual or cruel punishment as per the amendment. The Eighth Amendment was meant to curtail the government and courts from meting out disproportionate punishments on criminal defendants who had lost their case. This amendment also curtails excess bails. This means that courts are supposed to give fair bails based on the level of crime committed and the likelihood of the offender repeating the crime.
The Bill of Rights originated from England and can be traced to the Anglo-American history. In 1215, King John from England had signed into law the Magna Carta, which enshrined basic rights to people. Among these was protection of individuals from abuse of power by the rulers. This document also made a requirement for fair proceedings in courts as per “the law of the land.” America, being one of England’s colonies enjoyed the same laws as England (Burgan, 2002). Colonial charters extended the laws in England to migrants in various places such as the U.S. In 1628, the Petition of Right document was passed by Parliament. This petition was passed in response to the actions of Charles 1. The Petition of Right protected individuals against unlawful imprisonment, including those in the U.S. Another important document which became the foundation of the Bill of Rights was the English Bill of Rights of 1689.
Following the declaration of independence in 1776, the documentation of state constitutions and bills of rights became imperative. Various states begun developing constitutions to guide their operations. In Virginia, George Mason drafted the bill of rights which became a benchmark for other states. This became known as Virginia Declaration of Rights. The bill of rights protected citizens against specific abuses. In 1787, there were growing concerns on the need to ratify the U.S. constitution. In 1789, Madison introduced a raft of amendments to the U.S. constitution. Seven of these ratifications were adopted becoming the Bill of Rights amendments (Labunski, 2006).
The Eighth Amendment has stirred controversy in the legal sector for long, with some factions calling removal of some clauses. Those in favor of the Eighth Amendment cite a number of concerns. First, it is important to check the powers of the state when dealing with its citizens. It is argued that states which are allowed to prescribe severe punishments can become oppressive or authoritarian. Second, the amendment curtails the amount of fines that can be imposed on a defendant who is found guilty. A number of rulings have been made regarding the Eighth Amendment. For instance, some courts have found capital punishment due to rape as excessive punishment. This prevents the federal government or courts from misusing their powers. Thirdly, the amendment helps in keeping jails less crowded. This is because the amendment curtails judges from giving excessive bail.
There are a number of reasons why individuals take a stand against the amendment. First, the interpretation of the Eighth Amendment is left to the discretion of the judges or courts. It might often confusing to determine what “excessive bail” or “excessive” fine constitutes (Labunski, 2006). The judges also serve courts which are in some way monopolized by the state. The judges can thus be manipulated into giving excessive punishment or denying bail to a defendant. In addition, the term “excessive bail” is a relative term with regard to the material wealth of the defendant. The Eighth Amendment’s prohibition of “cruel and unusual punishment” is not clear. In referring to “unusual punishment”, the amendment seems to allude that punishment can be legitimized if applied frequently. The Eighth Amendment also appears to contravene the death penalty or capital punishment. According to the amendment, the state should not impose a “cruel” punishment on an individual. Capital punishment may be regarded as cruel.
In conclusion, the Eight Amendment is an important part of the U.S. society. The amendment specifically deals with fines, bail and punishments. It is important to check on the powers of state or courts upon the common man. If the state and courts are given more powers to inflict punishment or court sentences, this may be a loophole for developing authoritarian sentences. For instance, individuals against the state who commit minor crimes could be given cruel or unusual punishments as intimidation. The amendment also ensures that offenders are treated in a humane manner, and that their rights are respected too. The Eighth Amendment is thus critical to the entire society. Nonetheless, there is need to provide clear clauses with regard to the phrase excessive fines or bail an unusual punishment.
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