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The United States Criminal Justice System Amendments

As society grows, the law ultimately evolves, taking various shapes from time to time thereby reflecting the needs of the society at the time. The United States criminal Justice System has undergone a number of amendments that have had significant consequences on application of the law. A  close interrogation of some of these amendments and how they have been applied shows a n expression of diversity in opinions both by the courts  and individual citizens.

The fourth Amendment

Under the 4th Amendment, citizens are guaranteed freedom from unreasonable search and seizure.

Case Study

Safford Unified School District v. Redding, 2009

13 year old Savana Redding was a student who was reported by another student Marissa Glines claiming that Savana had given her an ibuproven pill which is a prescription strength drug. .On searching Marrissa, more pills and some weapons were found on her day planner and pockets. According to Marissa, the day planer belonged to Savana. A search was conducted on Savana’s pockets, backpack and inside her undergarments. She sued the school district for violating her rights.

Supreme Court Ruling.

The Supreme Court observed that while the search by school officials was not legal, it was reasonable considering the nature of the offence and the facts presented in the case.

Agreeing to the law

This decision is highly plausible. By considering the circumstances of under which  Savana’s was exposed to a thorough body search in person and belongings, it is deducible that it  was the only way to determine how much a threat she posed to herself and others in the school environment. Having applied all other legal measures an agent can thus conduct a search of that nature in collecting evidence.

The Fifth Amendment

The Fifth Amendment protects a person from being compelled to be a witness against themselves in a criminal case.

Case Study

Miranda v.Arizona

Precisely the most famous case on the Fifth Amendment,  Ernesto Miranda was arrested and not informed of his rights to remain silient.This case became arguably one that held different opiins and interpretation by various courts and Mirinda’s attorney emphasized the fact that Mirinda was not informed of his rights upon arrest.

The Eight Amendment

Under the Eighth Amendment  the constitution bars the government from imposing excessive bail, excessive fines, or cruel and unusual punishment. On an offender.

Case Study

Atkins v.Virginia;1998

Daryl Atkins was convicted of abduction, armed robbery and abduction. He was however round to have mild mental retardation. The U.S Supreme Court held that sentencing a person with mental retardation violated the eighth amendment.


Although Atkins was found to have mild retardation, which led to his release, it is questionable why this information was not availed to the court at the beginning of the trial. This raises an important argument. At what point does the introduction of information become admissible in a court of law? The information regarding Atkins condition was introduced to the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court considered decisions by other jurisdictions. At the time, there were only two states that had banned the execution of the mentally retarded. After this, sixteen more could pass the statutes and many more followed.

The Fourteenth Amendment

The Fourteenth amendment focuses on rights to citizenship and equal protection of the laws

Landmark Case

Bush v. Gore ,2000

Bush’s lawyers argued that the Florida recoun violated the fourteenth amendment since there were different standards used by various municipalities while counting. The recount was discontinued and Bush became the president.

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