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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 78637 Add to Shopping cart Find in a Library
Title: New York City's Criminal Justice System, 1895-1932
Author(s): E Fishman
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 451
Sponsoring Agency: National Institute of Justice (NIJ)
Washington, DC 20531
National Science Foundation
Arlington, VA 22230
US Dept of Health, Education, and Welfare
Rockville, MD 20857
US Dept of Justice NIJ Pub
Washington, DC 20531
Grant Number: 76-NI-99-0068; 1F31 MH07341-01
Type: Thesis/Dissertation
Format: Dissertation/Thesis
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study analyzes how innovations came into the legal system of New York as part of the Progressive legacy of the early 20th century, what their intent and their impact was, and how well they succeeded in decreasing crime and contributing to better administration of justice.
Abstract: Progressive proposals designed to curb increases in lawlessness and to make the administration of justice more effective in turn-of-the-century New York included probation, juvenile court, and legal aid for indigent defendants. This study of their origin and early impact describes how the criminal justice system of that time operated, interacted with other agencies, and changed over the course of time. Legal and sociological literature was researched and statistical methods used (with a sample of 3,618 felony prosecutions for the time frame) to determine the parameters of New York's crime problem and how the courts dealt with it. The study finds that various factors unrelated to guilt or innocence of the offender (age, prior record, social and financial status, relationship with victim) often influenced the decisionmaking process and that certain categories of defendants were handled more severely than others. Progressive theories of crime causation, based on a deterministic view of crime, adopted innovations modeled on the image of the court as parent. Other proposals, based on the idea of individual responsibility, were modeled on the image of the state as a business enterprise. These included plans to streamline operations of the courts, remove politics from the courts, and make judicial decisionmaking processes more scientific. Finally, an examination of the response of New York's legal community to the crime problem focuses on two main areas: efforts to upgrade membership quality of the criminal bar and the development of legal aid to serve indigent offenders. Approximately 400 references are listed. Tabular data and footnotes are included. (Author abstract modified)
Index Term(s): Court reform; Law reform; Liberalism; New York; Political influences
Note: Columbia University - doctoral dissertation
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