skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 148414 Find in a Library
Title: Crime and Punishment in American History
Author(s): L M Friedman
Date Published: 1993
Page Count: 588
Sponsoring Agency: Basic Books
New York, NY 10022
Publication Number: ISBN 0-465-01461-5
Sale Source: Basic Books
10 East 53rd Street
New York, NY 10022
United States of America
Type: Historical Overview
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This history of America's criminal justice system from colonial times to the present shows how America fashioned a system of crime and punishment in its own image.
Abstract: Informed by the perspective of the social sciences, this book is a social history of crime and punishment, the story of America's social reaction to crime. The history of crime and punishment in America is not a history of criminal law or an intellectual history of penology or a treatise on the philosophy of good and evil. This book chronicles the development of a working system of criminal justice, from arrest to trial to prison and punishment. The author argues that the evolution of criminal justice has reflected transformations in America's character. Thus, the theocratic world of 17th-Century Puritanism generated a peculiar equation between crime and sin. The geographic and social mobility of 19th-Century America produced its own distinctive approach to crime and punishment; and the expressive individualism of the 20th Century encouraged an emphasis on "crimes of the self." Among the issues of crime and punishment in American history discussed are the Salem witchcraft trials, the "Red Scare" after World War I, the rise of the American penitentiary, the emergence of the professional detective, the development of laws against fornication and gambling, the reform of rape laws, the rise of the insanity defense, and the growth of a prisoners' rights movement. Also included are discussions about the growth of white-collar crime and the revolutionary changes in the relationship between gender and criminal justice. Chapter notes, a bibliographic essay, and a subject index
Main Term(s): Criminology
Index Term(s): Corrections; Courts; Jurisprudence; Punishment; Sociology of law; United States of America
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.