Is Our System of Criminal Justice Just?
While the U.S. Constitution provides extensive protections for those accused and convicted of crimes, the implementation of that system of justice has been uneven in U.S. history. Therefore, for this assignment you will be responsible for answering thoroughly the three supporting questions as it pertains to understanding Constitutional guarantees and the improvements to the criminal justice system.
• The submission should adhere to MLA standards, Times New Roman, 12point font, and double space. • Answer each of the three questions using scholarly material indicated. This is not an opinion assignment, so be sure that all responses to the questions below are derived from analyzing the Constitutional Amendments, Supreme Court Cases, and the novel Just Mercy. • The entire assignment should be a minimum of 250 words in length.
1. Briefly explain, what are the legal protections guaranteed to those accused and convicted of crimes under the 4th, 5th, 6th, 8th, and 14th Amendment?
2. Review the Supreme Court cases provided below, summarize the ruling for each case, and briefly discuss the improvement(s) to our criminal justice system that resulted from the ruling.
• Each of the landmark Supreme Court cases presented in the hyperlinks below directly addresses Constitutional amendments that are relevant to the improvement of the criminal justice system. Gideon v. Wainwright (1963) refers to the 14th amendment; Miranda v. Arizona (1966) refers to the 5th amendment; Batson v. Kentucky (1986) refers to the 6th and 14th amendments; Atkins v. Virginia (2002) refers to the 8th amendment; Arizona v. Gant (2009) refers to the 4th amendment. Some of these cases reiterated protections provided by particular amendments, while others pointed out violations of amendments. o Gideon v. Wainwright (1963) or https://www.oyez.org/cases/1962/155o Miranda v. Arizona (1966) or https://www.oyez.org/cases/1965/759o Batson v. Kentucky (1986) or https://www.oyez.org/cases/1985/84-6263o Atkins v. Virginia (2002) or https://www.oyez.org/cases/2001/00-8452o Arizona v. Gant (2009) or https://www.oyez.org/cases/2008/07-542
Example: The U.S. Supreme Court in Tennessee v. Garner ruled that pursuant to the 14th Amendment, the use of deadly force by a law enforcement official is prohibited to prevent a suspect from fleeing unless there is probable cause the suspect is of threat to the officer or the community. Therefore, this case limited the authority of officers to use deadly force against a suspect that is unarmed and is not of any threat to the community.
3. Read either excerpt 1 or 2 from the novel Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson provided below, consider how the statement aligns with the Supreme Court case(s) reviewed in the previous task, and analyze the excerpt to determine how it illustrate limitations of our criminal justice system in practice.
• Excerpt 1 – Structural Inequality “We have created a new caste system that forces thousands of people into homelessness, bans them from living with their families and in their communities, and renders them virtually unemployable…Presumptions of guilt, poverty, racial bias, and a host of other social, structural, and political dynamics have created a system that is defined by error, a system in which thousands of innocent people now suffer in prison” (Stevenson, p. 16)
• Excerpt 2 – Right to Counsel “Bryan,” [Steve Bright, director of the SPDC,] said at some point during our short flight, “capital punishment means ‘them without the capital get the punishment.’ We can’t help people on death row without help from people like you”…After years of prohibition and delay, executions were again taking place in the Deep South, and most of the people crowded on death row had no lawyers and no right to counsel. There was a growing fear that people would soon be killed without ever having their cases reviewed by skilled counsel” (Stevenson, pp. 6-7).
Source: Stevenson, B. (2015). Just mercy: A story of justice and redemption. New York: Spiegel & Grau