From the first incident of petty theft to modern media piracy, crime and punishment have been a part of every society. However, the structure and values of a particular society shape both the incidences of crime and the punishment of criminals. When the United States became an independent nation, politicians and civilians began the process of deciding which systems of punishment were appropriate for dealing with crime—a process that continues to this day. Crime and Punishment in America examines the development of crime and punishment in the United States—from the criminal justice practices of American Indians and the influence of colonists to the mistreatment of slaves, as well as such current criminal issues as the response to international terrorism.
Organized chronologically, this new volume explores the development of the modern penitentiary system in the United States, the beginnings of the first police force, and the controversy over the use of capital punishment. Each chapter begins with a detailed narrative of the crimes and punishments of a particular period and includes infamous criminal stories, such as the Lizzie Borden case and the rise of the modern-day serial killer. The economic and legal conditions of these crimes are also examined in this in-depth book, as well as the political and civilian responses. Each narrative section is followed by a chronology of events, highlighting important dates in the history of crime and punishment in the United States. Eyewitness testimonies—from Al Capone, Charles Manson, and hundreds more—conclude each chapter, providing firsthand accounts from criminals, victims, prosecutors, politicians, and average citizens. Appendixes provide concise biographies of 149 important individuals, as well as primary source documents, either full text or excerpts; a glossary; maps; graphs and tables; notes; a thorough bibliography; and an index. Approximately 90 black-and-white images of the criminals, crimes, prosecutors, and others affected by crime and punishment complete this fascinating resource.
Black-and-white photographs and illustrations. Maps. Graphs and tables. Index. Appendixes. Bibliography. Glossary. Chronologies. Notes.
About the Author(s)
David B. Wolcott holds an A.B. in history and English from Oberlin College and a Ph.D. in history from Carnegie Mellon University, which awarded him the 2000 Goldman Award for Excellence in Graduate Student Teaching. He has taught courses on the history of American criminal justice at Miami University and Carnegie Mellon University. He is the author of one book and several scholarly journal articles, and he has contributed to numerous encyclopedias.
Tom Head holds a B.A. in liberal studies from Regents College and an M.A. in humanities from California State University–Dominguez Hills, and he is currently a Ph.D. candidate in interdisciplinary studies from Edith Cowan University. A professional freelance writer, he is the author or coauthor of 17 nonfiction books about U.S. history and social issues.