New PDF release: Crime and Punishment in American History

Rules Procedures

By Lawrence M. Friedman

ISBN-10: 0465014879

ISBN-13: 9780465014873

In a breathtaking heritage of our legal justice process from Colonial instances to at the present time, one in every of our superior criminal thinkers exhibits how the US shaped a process of crime and punishment in its personal picture.

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Clearly, there are crimes and crimes. It is conventional to draw a line between property crimes, crimes against the person, morals offenses, offenses against public order, and regulatory crimes. Social reactions depend on the type of crime. Typologies are not very systematic; but they can be illuminating. For example, there are what we might call predatory crimes—committed for money and gain; usually, the victims are strangers. These are the robberies and muggings that plague the cities and inspire so much dread.

Before we turn to the colonial period, I want to mention two points briefly. The first is about the impact of criminal justice on crime. Supposedly, the main function of the system is to control crime and punish it. Does it do this job? For most of the period we cover—close to four centuries—we simply have no idea. Clearly, there must be some impact, some deterrent effect, some influence on morality and behavior. How much, is completely unknown. It is pretty certain that it is less than most people think; the constant clamor for more prisons, more executions, more police, assumes a potency that is almost surely a delusion.

We will return to this point. CRIMINAL JUSTICE This is, if anything, an even vaguer term. It is not easy to describe or define this system. In fact, there is no single meaning; the criminal justice system is an umbrella label for certain people, roles, and institutions in society. What these have in common is this: they all deal in some significant way with crime—they define crime; or they detect crime; or they prosecute or defend people accused of crime; or they punish crime. Of course, as we said, in a very real sense it is society that makes the decisions about what is and is not crime.

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Crime and Punishment in American History by Lawrence M. Friedman

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