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The Macksey Journal

Abstract

The American justice system has been plagued for centuries by false imprisonments, racial discrimination, and even corrupt law enforcement. However, an often overlooked example of this injustice has been present for nearly 300 years, from Salem, Massachusetts to Edenton, North Carolina. This issue can be identified as scapegoating as a result of religious mass hysteria, central features of both the Salem witch trials and the Little Rascals Day Care sexual abuse trial. By examining the case files of several legal journals and the conclusions of religious studies experts, I argue that a combination of change-related fear and witness coercion are ultimately the causes for these infamous trials. This, coupled with the introduction of new media platforms created an unalterable surge of Evangelical fervor across the United States, not dissimilar to the strict religious standards and regulations of the Puritans in Salem. Why were these heinous accusations made? Why did they have to be “satanic?” By reviewing the lessons that the Salem Witch trials failed to instill in the American justice system, I answer these questions and explain how they still disrupt the integrity of our fundamental right to a fair trial.

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