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Criminal Justice Professionals and the Declaration of Independence


The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are indeed the pillar documents to America’s sovereignty. These documents were designed to provide a cohesive social, legal and economic structure that binds the United States of America. The tremendous progress experienced by the United States in complexity and growth can mainly be attributed to these documents and the individuals behind their preparation, adoption and implementation. However, the circumstances surrounding the preparation and consequent adoption of some of these documents were controversial yet obligatory. It is therefore important to understand the conditions that necessitated these documents and the subsequent result and use this as a blueprint to guide criminal justice professionals. This essay shall focus on the circumstances that preceded these documents, their adoption and what I believe all criminal justice professionals should know about the preparation and/or adoption of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

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The Declaration of Independence

The events surrounding the drafting and adoption of the Declaration of Independence can be considered as the most controversial in the American history. Aspiration for independence came at a time when the United States of America, then referred to as the united colonies were under the colonial rule of the British Empire governed by King George III (Klos 3). The first Continental Congress composed of representatives from each state petitioned King George III for redress of apparent grievances they had in relation to the neglect they were receiving from the British Empire. After King George III failed to address these grievances, the Congress took charge of government in 1775 and established a national currency and the Continental Army which was seen as open rebellion to the crown (Boyd 2). On June 7, 1776, Richard Henry Lee of Virginia proposed in the Pennsylvania State House in Philadelphia, a resolution for the liberation of America from allegiance to the British Empire (Boyd 2).

On June 11, Congress was recessed and a Committee of Five consisting of John Adams, Roger Sherman, Benjamin Franklin, Robert Livingston and Thomas Jefferson was selected to draft a proclamation to argue the colonies’ case for independence (Klos 3). The committee assigned Jefferson with the role of drafting the document, and discussion on the drafted document commenced on July 1, 1776, when Congress reconvened (Boyd 2). Discussion and amendments to the document proceeded till late morning of June 4 when the Declaration of Independence was officially adopted (Gustafson 3).

The sequence of events that preceded and surrounded the preparation and adaptation of the Declaration of Independence in my opinion comprehend important values for criminal justice professionals. As implementers of the law, criminal justice professionals have the responsibility to identify and question repressive and unprolific edicts posed within the justice system. The criminal justice professionals have the mandate to call for the repealing of such laws which contradict the independence of any American citizen. They should know about the Richard Henry Lee’s resolution for independence to draw inspiration to oppose popular despotic laws that inhibit the independence of any American citizen and to appreciate the inference of freedom. Thus, by firmly understanding the implications asserted in the Declaration of Independence, criminal justice will get professionals a top-of-the-head approach in defense to any citizen whose independence is contravened.

The Constitution

The constitutional convention appointed to draft the American constitution commenced its sittings on May 25, 1787 in the State House in Philadelphia. The convention was presided over by George Washington who was unanimously selected by the states’ representative deputies (Gustafson 3). It took the convention approximately ninety working days to draft the constitution after which the deputies debated upon the document until considerable concurrence was arrived at on July 24, 1787 (Bruns 3). On August 6, a committee of Detail that was appointed to expand the constitution presented a draft which included twenty-three articles that contained fifty-seven sections. The deputies debated further on the document proposing several amendments and consequently appointed a Committee of Style on September 8 to revise the draft (Henry 2). The Committee of Style presented the revised draft on September 12 which included several changes to the wordings of the document and a new preamble and the revised document was agreed upon by the majority. Out of the fifty-five deputies who were actively involved in the convention, thirty nine signed the document, three of them refused to sign whereas the rest were absent (Gustafson 3).

The Constitution initially became obligatory in nine States by the approval of New Hampshire as the ninth State on June 21, 1788. On September 13, 1788, Congress adopted a resolution declaring that members of the electorate should be selected in the ratifying States on the first Wednesday in January, 1789 (Bruns 2). The members were then required to vote for a President on the first Wednesday in February, 1789. The first Wednesday of the following month was then to be set aside for the official adoption of the new constitution. On March 3, 1789, the old Confederation was repealed, and on the first Wednesday, March 4, the new government of the United States was set in place under a new constitution (Henry 2).

Criminal justice professionals should be required to know the labor and strife that members of the constitutional convention went through in order to come up with a new constitution for America. The lengthy debates that were held represented the will of each of the deputies to aid in the production of a final document that would potentially benefit the people they represented. Criminal justice professionals should also be aware of the systematic order that went into perfecting the constitution considering the document was critically analyzed and amended by two capable committees i.e. the Committee of Detail and the Committee of Style.

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In addition, criminal justice professionals should also recognize the gradual process that culminated in the adoption of the constitution, bearing in mind the measures that were taken to methodically implement it. Criminal justice professionals should also understand that every state in America was represented during the preparation of the constitution, apart from Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. The constitution therefore bears within it the united ambition of the American people in its core and thus is a full representation of the collective purpose of the American people.

The Bill of Rights

Necessity for the Bill of Rights came into focus in the same period as that of the new American constitution. The debate for a national Bill of Rights was introduced by the anti-Federalists, the individuals who were against the adoption of the proposed constitution. The anti-Federalists viewed the constitution as unclear in identifying the power of government and in protecting the people against despotic leadership (Henry 3). In 1788, James Madison who was also a federalist or a supporter of the proposed constitution became sentient to the fact that a bill of rights was in essence a necessity (Henry 2). He determined that a bill of rights would help counter any form of exploitative leadership and also reduce the antagonism that the proposed constitution was facing from anti-Federalists. Madison being a representative of Virginia used his position in the First Federal Congress to garner support for the bill of rights by convincing the House to ratify amendments to the new constitution. Madison initially proposed 17 amendments which the senate reduced to 10 on September 18, 1789 (Bruns 2). In October, the then President, General George Washington sent a copy of the approved amendments to each of the states in America. These were the amendments that became famously known as The Bill of Rights.

In my opinion, criminal justice professionals should be well versed with the power of antagonism as is evident in the proposition of the Bill of Rights by anti-Federalists and the resultant successful amendments. The criminal justice professionals should appreciate the need for protecting the citizens from unrestrained governance by taking an anti-Federalists perspective when faced with new laws in the criminal justice system. Further, criminal justice professionals should understand that it is within their duty to ensure that protected rights are not violated by constantly proposing amendments to indistinct regulations that can easily be bent by current or future governments. The bill of rights was primarily proposed in order to protect the citizens and to regulate the power and authority exercised by the government. It is therefore within the duty of criminal justice professional to ensure that the bill of rights if fully implemented and they can only do this by fully understanding the purpose of its adoption.


Criminal justice professionals working in America are duty bound to safeguard the interests of the individuals they represent and the American citizens at large. In order for them to perform these duties soberly, they need to understand the root cause of what brought about the existence of the laws they adamantly uphold. The history of these laws can only be derived from the discussed documents, i.e. the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. These three documents give a detailed perspective as to how citizens and government should relate and coexist, and the penalties for breaking the stipulated laws. Criminal justice professionals should therefore in essence draw inspiration from the history of these documents and tirelessly aim at defending the citizens and regulating erratic leadership. In addition, criminal justice professionals should appreciate the contention that went into materializing these key documents which provide the stability experienced in the American democracy.

Work Cited

Boyd, Julian C. The Declaration of Independence: The Mystery of the Lost Original. Web.

Bruns, Roger A. More Perfect Union: The Creation of the United States Constitution. 2010. Web.

Gustafson, Milton H. Travels of the Charters of Freedom. 2010. Web.

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Henry, Patrick G. Against the Federal Constitution. 2010. Web.

Klos, Stanley W. Declaration of Independence: A Brief History. 2010. Web.

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