Crime & Punishment in American History

This page collects various materials that I use in my course “Crime and Punishment in American History.”  The course syllabus is here and the reading assignments and discussion questions are here.

Assigned Readings

Jan. 17: John H. Langbein, “The Criminal Trial Before the Lawyers,” 45 U. Chi. L. Rev. 263 (1978) (Hein Online link).

Jan. 24: Narratives of the Witchcraft Cases, 1648-1706 (George Lincoln Burr, ed. 1914) (excerpts).

Jan. 31: Cesare Beccaria, Of Crimes and Punishments (2d American edition, 1819; originally published in Italian in 1764).

Fedb. 12: Gustave de Beaumont & Alexis de Toqueville, On the Penitentiary System in the United States, and Its Application in France (Francis Lieber, trans. 1833).

Feb. 12: Charles Dickens, “Philadelphia and Its Solitary Prison,” in American Notes: A Journey (1842).

March 7: Cara W. Robertson, “Representing ‘Miss Lizzie’: Cultural Convictions in the Trial of Lizzie Borden,” 8 Yale J. L. & Hum. 351, 351-404, 410-16 (1996) (Hein Online link).

March 26: Michael J. Klarman, “Scottsboro,” 93 Marq. L. Rev. 379 (2009).

April 11: Heather Ann Thompson, “Why Mass Incarceration Matters: Rethinking Crisis, Decline, and Transformation in Postwar American History,” 97 J. Am. Hist. 703 (2010) (Oxford journals link).

Other Materials

John Howard, The State of the Prisons in England and Wales (1777).

Jeremy Bentham, Panopticon (1791).

Carrie Cropley, The Case of John McCaffary, 35 Wisconsin Magazine of History 281 (1952).

Historical U.S. Census data.

Video on attempted lynching of James Cameron.

National Commission on Law Observance and Enforcement, Reports on Prohibition Enforcement and Criminal Statistics (1931).

Website for Stanford Prison Experiment (1971).

Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Dept. of Justice, Prisoners 1925-81 (1982).

Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Dept. of Justice, Race of Prisoners Admitted to State and Federal Institutions, 1925-86 (1991).

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