Then and Now of Habeas Corpus

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Then and Now of Habeas Corpus
Wendy Lupton
POL 201 American National Government
Russel Riggs
10/01/2012

Freedom. What an indescribable term. Is it merely a feeling or is it something more tangible? False Imprisonment. Now that is something more noticeable. The Great Writ of Habeas Corpus has been part of the judicial system since the Magna Carta! It is this writer's intent to show the reader how Habeas Corpus has been incorporated into the United States of America's Constitution and how it has changed since being written into law by the implementation of the Habeas Corpus Act of 1679; Interesting usage of Habeas Corpus will be explored throughout the reader's journey down the rabbit hole.

The phrase “Habeas Corpus” is an ancient common law prerogative instrument dating back to the Magna Carta. Though not specifically written in this great charter, Habeas Corpus is implied by the phrase “the law of the land.” This gave enough room for interpretation to include Habeas Corpus as a common law issue versus civil law implementation. It is a legal procedure to which the detained person has an incontrovertible right. Prior to the passage of the English Parliamentary Habeas Corpus Act of 1679, detainment and release of citizens was done from a “top down” method where it was basically the king's or his court's whim to release a prisoner even if there was sufficient evidence proving the innocence of the incarcerated subject (Robertson, 2002).

Habeas Corpus is such an important right that even the framers of the United States of America's Constitution included it in Article 1 Section 9! They, the framers of the Constitution, thought so much of this Great Writ that they ensured its inclusion even before they incorporated the most basic guardians of American liberty, the famed Bill of Rights! The Bill of Rights was actually an “afterthought” that was only included due to the single-handed efforts of James Madison to get it passed finally on December 17th, 1791....
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