Law Enforcement in a Just Society
Introduction to Criminal Justice
19 January 2015
The United States of America was founded on the basis of freedom. Freedom, though implied through our very citizenship, is not something we have the ability to take for granted. True freedom can only be achieved through an effective judicial system that establishes and mandates laws that protect society from itself. In order to protect society from itself however, the criminal justice system has to have a solid understanding of social justice and its importance to the people of the United States. The establishment of a more just society cannot be achieved if the principles used to establish this nation are lost. Law enforcement agencies and professionals can use the social justice principles of equality, solidarity, and human rights to help mold society and ensure all Americans that the values used to establish this great nation still hold true today. In order to better understand the role of law enforcement in procuring a more just society one must observe the constitutional standards that allow these agencies to remain dedicated to the people. The Constitution of the United States is not just a guideline that limits the power of law enforcement; it is also the ethical and moral standards that each and every law enforcement professional lives by. Certain parts of the constitution are surely more relevant to law enforcement than others but the Constitution as a whole is relevant to us all. The first constitutional Amendment that guides law enforcement agencies and its personnel is arguably the most important. In Colonial America, customs Writs of Assistance served as general search warrants that did not expire, allowing customs officials to search anywhere for smuggled goods without having to obtain a specific warrant. These writs were issued by courts in British America in the 1760s. The oppressive nature of these General Writs of Assistance inspired the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which forbids general search warrants in the United States. Thus once again, the founders, whether by luck or phenomenal insight, provided yet another restraint on governmental overreach (Las Cruces Sun, 2013). Other constitutional provisions that guide law enforcement agencies and personnel do not necessarily do so on an individual basis. However, the importances of these provisions are just as necessary to securing a just society as the more direct ones. For example, the Fourteenth Amendment states that no state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws (Cornell University Law School, n.d.). Most law enforcement personnel would agree that the ethical morals behind the Fourteenth Amendment would adhere to the individual rights of all Americans. However, most of the constitutional provisions dealing with law enforcement almost certainly adhere to individual rights it’s equality and solidarity that tend to come into question. This is most certainly true with the Fourteenth Amendment because it covers such a broad spectrum of society. One of the more known constitutional amendments, in reference to law enforcement, is arguably the most thorough, the Fifth Amendment. The clauses incorporated within the Fifth Amendment outline basic constitutional limits on police procedure. The Framers derived the Grand Juries Clause and the Due Process Clause from the Magna Carta, dating back to 1215. Scholars consider the Fifth Amendment as capable of breaking down into the following five distinct constitutional rights: grand juries for capital crimes, a prohibition on double jeopardy, a prohibition against required...
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