Crime and Punishment in American History by Lawrence M. Friedman

By Lawrence M. Friedman

In a breathtaking heritage of our legal justice process from Colonial instances to at the present time, one in every of our best felony thinkers exhibits how the USA shaped a method of crime and punishment in its personal photograph.

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By this I refer to the erosion of what was left of colonial autocracy. This happened not because Americans spent their time reading political philosophy, but because this was a big, open, mobile, expansive place, with land to bum, where the knots and constraints of the Old World-or of the Puritan divines—crumbled into dust. In the nineteenth century, society was reconstituted in terms of a culture of mobility. Mobility has a social and a spatial meaning. This was a country of immigrants, a country of rolling stones; it was also a country in which it was possible to rise in society—and also to fall.

Every society probably has some way to control and limit intolerable behavior. Even blood feuds and vengeance have to follow the rules, in societies that recognize vengeance and feuds. A community in which “anything goes” would tear itself apart in no time; it would make the Beirut of the 1980s look like a Sunday school picnic. But criminal justice has no monopoly on the business of restraining evil inclinations. It isn’t fear of jail that keeps most of us from robbing, pillaging, raping, murdering, and thieving.

CRIME, CRIMINAL JUSTICE, AND CULTURE Crime is behavior; and its roots must lie somewhere in the personality, character, and culture of the people who do the acts we condemn. ” This much is obvious. It seems equally obvious that behavior reflects what society makes out of people, or fails to make. Committing a crime means that some message was aborted or ignored, some lesson unlearned, some order countermanded, or, at times, some small piece of social rebellion committed. But messages of deviance and misbehavior came from somewhere, too; they were not inborn.

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