Salem witch trial

(1). The Salem Witch trials are believed to have started in 1692. It entailed the convicting and sentencing to death of women who were found guilty of practicing witchcraft. It began after allegations by a group of girls in Salem that evil spirits possessed them. Also, during this period, a wave of hysteria was spreading throughout Massachusetts (Editors). This necessitated a special court that would listen to the cases to be assembled. The first convict before the court was Bridget Bishop. After her hanging, many other alleged witches followed the same path. Gradually the cases of hysteria began to subside, which made the public turn against the trials. The cause of the hysteria is believed to have been boredom. Women in Salem were bored, and they began to develop an interest in magical stories and fortune-telling. Participation in these forbidden mystic activities combined with fear and guilt may have resulted in their strange behavior.

(2). I do not think the accused in the 17th century received a fair trial. The reason why I take this stand is that the girls claimed to be possessed by the devil were faked accusations to avoid falling in trouble with their parents. And since the whole town was against the accused, they must have felt frightened and unable to plead innocent. Moreover, during the proceedings of the trials, it was only the accused against a group of judges. At least if the alleged witches were allowed to bring witnesses to back them up, that would have made the trials slightly fair. 

(3). Most of the people accused were in fear of what the people would do to them and their loved ones. So they might have thought by confessing the judges would have pardoned them and be accepted back in the society. Another reason that would have possible lead the people accused to confess was the fear of being restricted to a chair and be dunked in a river. It was believed that witches could not drown. To avoid being drowned by the public, the innocent were forced to confess guilt. Ones a person was alleged to be a witch, it was likely for her entire family to be victimized as well. Therefore to avoid matters from being worse for one’s family confessing to a crime they did not commit seemed to be the best option.

(4). The accused did receive a due process. The fact that they were brought to court is reason enough for this. While before the judges, they were given a chance to either plead guilty or otherwise. Moreover, after any of the witched confessed, the verdict was not excused immediately. The judges issued their ruling of perhaps hanging the witch but gave for her some time before the execution.

(5). The court model used during the trial was the adversarial system. The court acted as an arbitrator between the accused and the prosecution. The adversarial method was more appropriate because it works best when a case involves getting the truth from the accused. In this scenario, the court was trying to uncover whether those brought forth by the public were witches and who they practiced their craft with. Moreover, the accused were not able to gather evidence to challenge the prosecution, which is a character associated with the adversarial system. The court model did not consider investigations or pre-trials; allegations from the public were enough for a conviction. 

Works Cited

Editors, History.com. “Salem Witch Trials.” HISTORY, 4 Nov. 2011, www.history.com/topics/colonial-america/salem-witch-trials. Accessed 16 Oct. 2019.

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