The criminal justice system of the United States, when first framed through the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, was a revolutionary breakthrough in contemporary peace-keeping. For fear of becoming like their former governing nation - wherein unreasonable trials were held in such a way that numerous individuals accused of criminal acts were not offered a opportunity to demonstrate their innocence or, in some cases, a trial by jury – the framers of the Constitution created a justice system based on the preservation of the rights of the accused, as well as ascertaining an un-biased truth and dealing justice. This brief explanation on the foundation of the U.S. Criminal justice system plays an importance to the piece of literature under criticism.
Reginald Rose’s screenplay Twelve Angry Men provides insight into the judicial underbelly of a criminal trial, particularly the rigors of the jury’s decision-making procedure. Many issues to the contemporary justice system are made manifest despite the fact that the entirety of the play, excluding the opening court scene, takes place in a New York City jury room. The scenario of the case being presided over is an “offense against the person”; a homicide in specific in which, a New York City teenager is accused of fatally stabbing his father. The defendant has a criminal record (and a lot of circumstantial evidence piled against him) and therefore if convicted, the application of the death penalty is mandatory (in this scenario), which obviously should give the presiding jury a sense of pressure, given that a human being’s natural right to freedom and life rests in their unanimous decision. The application of the death penalty in this criminal case may have been just added for dramatic emphasis but the relevance to the modern criminal justice system is what makes an entertaining play plausible. For example, obviously in real criminal court, a guilty... [continues]
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