Essay about The Progressive Era Of The United States

Essay about The Progressive Era Of The United States

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The Progressive Era was a time of social activism and political reform throughout the United States. From roughly 1890 – 1920, a diverse group of people participated in this movement toward social, economic, and political change. Progressives’ primary goal was to stop government corruption starting at the state level and working their way up to national government. Public education, women’s rights, religion, and the legal system were just a few parts of society these activists sought to reform. Urban growth and rapid industrial development combined with increased immigration resulted in high crime rates; especially in larger cities. Progressives called for the reform of a “broken” penal system and for stronger penalties for criminals. However, in the 1905 jury trial of Robert Jefferson, the penal system was just when the jury found Mr. Jefferson guilty of Burglary in the Third Degree. Although some might believe that Mr. Jefferson did not receive the harshest sentence for his crime, the theme of justice being served is established with the outcome as read in the trial transcript. Upon hearing all the evidence from the prosecution and defense, it was evident to the jury, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Robert Jefferson was guilty of Burglary in the Third Degree.
In the typed transcript The People against Robert Jefferson, the burden of proof lies in the hands of the defendant’s attorney; M. E. Duffy. Mr. Duffy must prove that Mr. Jefferson did not commit the crime he had been accused of. In the same way, the prosecuting attorney, Assistant District Attorney Keyran J. O’Connor, Prosecutor for the People, must give the jury definitive evidence to prove that Mr. Jefferson lied about his whereabouts and did, in fact, commit the crime...


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...rogressive attitude about crime and the American legal system was that laws were not set in stone; they could be changed to meet the growing needs of American society. Themes that are relevant to that time period are equal justice for all, greed on the part of the government, corporations, and citizens, and abuse of power. Robert Jefferson’s arrest and subsequent imprisonment for his crime of Burglary in the Third Degree, is evidence that justice was served. Violent crimes and crimes of immorality plagued this country at the turn of the twentieth century. Racial tensions were high sparked by the arrival of immigrants into the United States. Urban riots resulted in criminal behavior which resulted in deaths and serious injuries. Industrial and urban growth were catalysts for increased criminal activity in large cities as the 1905 case of Robert Jefferson demonstrates.

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