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Maintaining Our Republic: The Vital Role of Citizen Education

NCJ Number
Judicature Volume: 71 Issue: 5 Dated: (February-March 1988) Pages: 284-286
R K Pirraglia
Date Published
3 pages
Public ignorance and misinformation about the U.S. Constitution, the law, and the operation of our courts threatens the fabric of American society.
The American system of law rests on two principles: (1) that law exists to protect the many from the criminal acts of a few who break the law and (2) that each individual charged with breaking the law possesses certain legal rights that are intended to prevent the conviction of an innocent person wrongly accused. The failure of citizens to grasp these principles or to understand the facts of our constitutional and legal history jeopardizes our legal system. The responsibility for citizen legal, political, and constitutional education rests with the citizenry itself. However, judges and lawyers must lead in the development of legal education programs for citizens. Students must visit the courtrooms, and judges and lawyers must carry legal education into classrooms. The legal profession should initiate a coordinated program of citizen legal training and education in cooperation with administrators and educators. Additionally, the media must honestly report news relating to courts and the criminal justice system. The year of the bicentennial of the drafting of the U.S. Constitution is an appropriate time to begin to develop a comprehensive citizen education program on the American system of law. 1 footnote.