Crime And Punishment In American History

Crime And Punishment In American History

Language: English

Pages: 590

ISBN: 0465014879

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

In a panoramic history of our criminal justice system from Colonial times to today, one of our foremost legal thinkers shows how America fashioned a system of crime and punishment in its own image.

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in 1979, a woman named Doris Aiken founded Remove Intoxicated Drivers (RID). A similar and very active organization, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), was founded by Candy Lightner in 1980 in Sacramento, California. A drunk driver had killed Mrs. Lightner’s daughter.23 Drunk driving is, in some ways, an odd crime. James Jacobs has called it an “inchoate offense,” meaning that the crime is committed when you drink and drive even if nobody gets hurt at all.24 (It is not, of course, the only

criminal defendants, and the like. They accepted the idea of broad zones of immunity and discretion—zones of unquestioned authority. Wardens and police officers were the petty sovereigns of such zones. There were, to be sure, limits, but these were fairly elastic. This was emphatically no longer the case with the doctrines that emerged in the second half of the twentieth century.18 Very striking was the way the Supreme Court laid down rules to control police behavior: rules about arrests,

shouting and partying that brought in the twentieth century, the wild celebrations when the clock struck midnight, did not produce a new legal culture. January 1, 1900, was a special day of a special year, with the special magic of big, round numbers. But social life is a river that flows broad and deep; the river does not always flow at the same speed; it has calm spots, and areas of turbulence. Certainly, we cannot measure and mark off social change by the ticking of a clock or the banging of a

47 Commonwealth v. Wentworth, 118 Mass. 441 (1875). 48 Joel P. Bishop, Commentaries on the Criminal Law (2d ed., 1858), p. 373. 49 Code of Virginia, 1849, Title 25, chap. 86, sec. 16, 17, p. 399. 50 Ashbrook v. Commonwealth, 64 Ky. (1 Bush) 139 (1866). 51 See, for example, Del. Const. 1897, Art. 12, establishing a state board of health, and local boards of health. See also Barbara G. Rosenkrantz, Public Health and the State: Changing Views in Massachusetts, 1842—1936 (1972). 52 Laws N.J.

and then ordered the man out of town.8 One can be sure that it was not the wealthy or the powerful who were arrested “on suspicion” and thrown into jail cells. This was also true of some (but not all) arrests for drunkenness. Drunkenness was technically a minor crime or offense. The police did not treat drunks as threats to society; after all, most police got drunk themselves once in a while. But they cleared them off the streets, or dragged them out of bars where they were brawling—or even from

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