The Ohio State University Press

History of Crime and Criminal Justice

Edited by David R. Johnson and Jeffrey S. Adler

Published by: The Ohio State University Press

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History of Crime and Criminal Justice

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Cops and Kids

Policing Juvenile Delinquency in Urban America, 1890-1940

Juvenile courts were established in the early twentieth century with the ideal of saving young offenders from “delinquency.” Many kids, however, never made it to juvenile court. Their cases were decided by a different agency—the police. Cops and Kids analyzes how police regulated juvenile behavior in turn-of-the-century America. Focusing on Los Angeles, Chicago, and Detroit, it examines how police saw their mission, how they dealt with public demands, and how they coped daily with kids. Whereas most scholarship in the field of delinquency has focused on progressive-era reformers who created a separate juvenile justice system, David B. Wolcott’s study looks instead at the complicated, sometimes coercive, relationship between police officers and young offenders. Indeed, Wolcott argues, police officers used their authority in a variety of ways to influence boys’ and girls’ behavior. Prior to the creation of juvenile courts, police officers often disciplined kids by warning and releasing them, keeping them out of courts. Establishing separate juvenile courts, however, encouraged the police to cast a wider net, pulling more young offenders into the new system. While some departments embraced “child-friendly” approaches to policing, others clung to rough-and-tumble methods. By the 1920s and 1930s, many police departments developed new strategies that combined progressive initiatives with tougher law enforcement targeted specifically at growing minority populations. Cops and Kids illuminates conflicts between reformers and police over the practice of juvenile justice and sheds new light on the origins of lasting tensions between America’s police and urban communities.

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Gender and Petty Violence in London, 1680-1720

Looking at a heretofore overlooked set of archival records of London in the late 17th and early 18th centuries, Hurl-Eamon reassesses the impact of gender on petty crime and its prosecution during the period. This book offers a new approach to the growing body of work on the history of violence in past societies. By focusing upon low-cost prosecutions in minor courts, Hurl-Eamon uncovers thousands of assaults on the streets of early modern London. Previous histories stressing the masculine nature of past violence are questioned here: women perpetrated one-third of all assaults. In looking at more mundane altercations rather than the homicidal attacks studied in previous histories, the book investigates violence as a physical language, with some forms that were subject to gender constraints, but many of which were available to both men and women. Quantitative analyses of various circumstances surrounding the assaults—including initial causes, weapons used, and injuries sustained—outline the patterns of violence as a language. Hurl-Eamon also stresses the importance of focusing on the prosecutorial voice. In bringing the court’s attention to petty attacks, thousands of early modern men and women should be seen as agents rather than victims. This view is especially interesting in the context of domestic violence, where hundreds of wives and servants prosecuted patriarchs for assault, and in the Mohock Scare of 1712, where London’s populace rose up in opposition to aristocratic violence. The discussion is informed by a detailed knowledge of assault laws and the rules governing justices of the peace.

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Prison Work

A Tale of Thirty Years in the California Department of Corrections

What do we know first-hand about prisons? We have accounts from many top administrators. There is a large literature of convict reports and memoirs. But we have almost no personal accounts written by the people who were engaged in the day-to-day work of guarding and keeping prison inmates. In Prison Work, former California prisons corrections officer William Richard Wilkinson candidly tells what it was like to try to handle problems that can arise in prison, from furnishing three meals a day to quelling a riot. Constructed around a series of interviews with Wilkinson, this book recounts his extensive experience with discipline problems, wrong-headed administrators, contraband, and escapes. Wilkinson’s story presents a blunt, unabashed view of daily life in prison, including fascinating discussions of racial and religious conflict, gangs, and prison violence as well as the institutional culture and more human side of life as experienced by a prison employee. The duration of Wilkinson’s career (1951–1981) saw the greatest change in the American prison system. He was responsible for implementing change on the level of the prison block. At the California Institution for Men in Chino, he started out under the inspiring leadership of one of the most famous reform figures in penology. At the California Medical Facility in Vacaville, he participated in one of the great prison experiments when medical officials ran a maximum security prison. And at Soledad, he experienced the reaction to earlier liberal policies. Over the years, he accumulated much wisdom concerning how to handle convicts—wisdom that still has importance for corrections workers.

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Pursuing Johns

Criminal Law Reform, Defending Character, and New York City's Committee of Fourteen, 1920-1930

In Pursuing Johns, Thomas C. Mackey studies the New York Committee of Fourteen and its members’ attempts to influence vagrancy laws in early-20th-century New York City as a way to criminalize men’s patronizing of female prostitutes. It sought out and prosecuted the city’s immoral hotels, unlicensed bars, opium dens, disorderly houses, and prostitutes. It did so because of the threats to individual “character” such places presented. In the early 1920s led by Frederick Whitin, the Committee thought that the time had arrived to prosecute the men who patronized prostitutes through what modern parlance calls a “john’s law.” After a notorious test case failed to convict a philandering millionaire for vagrancy, the only statutory crime available to punish men who patronized prostitutes, the Committee lobbied for a change in the state’s criminal law. In the process, this representative of traditional 19th-century purity reform allied with the National Women’s Party, the advanced feminists of the 1920s. Their proposed “Customer Amendment” united the moral Right and the feminist Left in an effort to alter and use the state’s criminal law to make men moral, defend their character, and improve New York City’s overall morality. Mackey’s contribution to the literature is unique. Instead of looking at how vice commissions targeted female prostitutes or the commerce supporting and surrounding them, Mackey concentrates on how men were scrutinized.

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Social Control in Europe

Volume 1, 1500-1800

This two-volume collection of essays provides a comprehensive examination of the idea of social control in the history of Europe. The uniqueness of these volumes lies in two main areas. First, the contributors compare methods of social control on many levels, from police to shaming, church to guilds. Second, they look at these formal and informal institutions as two-way processes. Unlike many studies of social control in the past, the scholars here examine how individuals and groups that are being controlled necessarily participate in and shape the manner in which they are regulated. Hardly passive victims of discipline and control, these folks instead claimed agency in that process, accepting and resisting—and thus molding—the controls under which they functioned. In both volumes, an introduction outlines the origins and the continuing value of the concept of social control. The introductions are followed by two substantive sections. The essays in part one of volume 1 focus on the interplay of ecclesiastical institutions and the emerging states; those in part two of volume 1 look more explicitly at discipline from a bottom-up perspective. The essays in part one of volume 2 explore the various means by which communities—generally working-class communities—in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Europe were subjected to forms of discipline in the workplace, by the church, and by philanthropic housing organizations. It notes also how the communities themselves generated their own forms of internal control. Part two of volume 2 focuses on various policing institutions, exploring in particular the question of how liberal and totalitarian regimes differed in their styles of control, repression, and surveillance.

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Social Control in Europe

Volume 2, 1800-2000

This two-volume collection of essays provides a comprehensive examination of the idea of social control in the history of Europe. The uniqueness of these volumes lies in two main areas. First, the contributors compare methods of social control on many levels, from police to shaming, church to guilds. Second, they look at these formal and informal institutions as two-way processes. Unlike many studies of social control in the past, the scholars here examine how individuals and groups that are being controlled necessarily participate in and shape the manner in which they are regulated. Hardly passive victims of discipline and control, these folks instead claimed agency in that process, accepting and resisting—and thus molding—the controls under which they functioned. In both volumes, an introduction outlines the origins and the continuing value of the concept of social control. The introductions are followed by two substantive sections. The essays in part one of volume 1 focus on the interplay of ecclesiastical institutions and the emerging states; those in part two of volume 1 look more explicitly at discipline from a bottom-up perspective. The essays in part one of volume 2 explore the various means by which communities—generally working-class communities—in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Europe were subjected to forms of discipline in the workplace, by the church, and by philanthropic housing organizations. It notes also how the communities themselves generated their own forms of internal control. Part two of volume 2 focuses on various policing institutions, exploring in particular the question of how liberal and totalitarian regimes differed in their styles of control, repression, and surveillance.

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Written in Blood

Fatal Attraction in Enlightenment Amsterdam

Pieter Spierenburg narrates two sensational murder cases among intimates in eighteenth-century Amsterdam. These cases recounted here both resulted from fatal attraction. They represented the darker side of the eighteenth-century revolution in love. This period witnessed great cultural changes affecting personal relationships and emotions. The new ideal of love demanded that couples spend much of their time together and explore each other’s feelings. But this new ideal was meant for married and engaged couples only; for others it meant disaster. Love gone wrong was the theme of the sentimental novels of the age, but it also happened to real people, with fatal consequences. Written in Blood traces the lives and ultimate fates of Nathaniel Donker, who, together with the help of his mistress, brutally murders and dismembers the wife. The second tale focuses on J. B. F. van Gogh, who falls in love with a prostitute; she later rejects him and, when a letter written with his own blood fails to change her mind, he stabs her to death in a fit of passionate rage. In Written in Blood, the reader gets two stories for the price of one. And, whereas earlier microhistories have been situated in a village or a small town, the scene here is Amsterdam and its canals. Spierenburg reveals in detail what concepts like honor and gender roles came down to in individual lives. He also shows that these murders produced a strange mixture of modern romantic feelings and traditional notions of honor and shame.

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