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crime and punishment in england
Transcript of crime and punishment in england
By: Alena Larsen Crime and Punishment in England 1800-1875 1875-1945 The growing knowledge of the people lead England to make the transformation in the late 19th century from a justice system that still had ties to religion to a justice system that was lead by liberal ideas. Although both world wars had effects on the laws, some that could be considered harsh, they all were fair and with good reason compared to the laws of previous centuries.
Common punishable crimes in 1500, that were committed and are still considered crimes today, were suicide, theft, treason, murder, and rape. A common crime committed in the 16th and 17th century, that is not considered a crime today, was witchcraft. During the witch craze, 3,000 people were tried in England for witchcraft, most of them being women over the age of fifty. Being a witch was not considered a crime but using witchcraft was. The witch craze did not die out until the 18th century. Crime Law Punishment In 1689 King and Queen William and Mary of Orange excepted the English Bill of Rights. Monarchs could no longer hold their own trials, act as judges, or impose cruel and unusual punishments. Parliament now held all the power to the justice system in England. Before the Bill of Rights England’s law system was unjust and the punishments for crimes were inhuman. Trials and punishments were bias, leaning in favor of the nobles. The right to instant death by loss of head was reserved only for nobles . Accused nobles’ trials were held by their peers while inferiors were held by the country. In the 18th century criminal cases were brought before local magistrates, who were unpaid members of the upper class. There was not yet a proper jury formed or trial system. Witnesses were examined directly by the judge and cases sometimes took only minutes. For more serious crimes such as rape or murder, cases were referred to Crown courts. Here the cases were conducted in Latin and did not involve defence barristers until the end of the century. In London, Horace Walpole said that “the greatest criminals of this town are the officers of justice.” The 18th century justice system relied on the “blood code,” which by 1800 was a list that included over two hundred offences that were punishable by death. These deaths were held as public events. Until 1783 the executions took place at Tyburn eight times a year in large groups of about twenty.
Before 1698, in cases concerning small crimes the traditional punishment for non nobles was to be hanged. In cases of murder they were left wrapped in chains, where ever they had committed the act, and left to die. In small cases of theft the punishment was time in the stocks and being whipped. Larger theft offenses were punished by being pressed to death or being burned at the stake. The greatest punishment given was the prisoner would be taken to their execution spot where they would be hanged half to death and then quartered, finally their bowels would be ripped out and thrown in a fire while the victim helplessly watched. This torturous punishment was reserved for great offenses against the state. Even suicide had a penalty. If someone were to kill themselves they would not be allowed to be buried on holy land. England’s most popular torture chamber used during 16th and 17th century was the Tower of London. There criminals were taken and torture until they confessed information. After the Bill of Rights punishments improved. The common death punishment in the 1700s was hanging. Crime Between 1770 and 1850 the economy of England boomed because of the Industrial Revolution. Theft and violence crimes decreased during the 19th century due to the lively economy. Since jobs and food were available there was no need for people to steal. Improving law enforcement also contributed to making stealing and mischievous less tempting. The end of the 18th century brought advancement in policing. The volunteer constables and the paid watchmen in London, who policed the streets during the early 1700s, were beginning to be replaced. In 1751, London Magistrate Henry Fielding founded the Bow Street Runners, who were the first group of armed men to carry out investigations and arrests. they were the first group in England to resemble our modern day police. The 19th century brought forth even more advancement. In the 1850s law enforcers were advancing further. New police forces were uniformly established across the country. This new force was professional. The police were subject to annual inspections on behalf of Parliament and trained in suppressing forms of poor public behavior.
Enforcement Courts started to deal with theft crimes more efficiently, when in earlier years they just allowed cases of stolen property to be pushed aside as lost property. Between 1805 and 1842 The number of court cases rose from 4,600 to 31,300. With more cases being sent to the Crown Courts during the 19th century, smaller courts were needed to help pick up the slack. In 1848 Parliament passed the Summary Jurisdiction Act, giving magistrates the power to perform trials on more serious crimes. This relieved the Crown Court of some of the rising numbers of prosecutions. The new courts earned a reputation for efficiency and during March- December 1847 they dealt with 429,215 claims. The “Blood Code” of the 18th century had been abolished. the only crimes that remained punishable by death were murder and traitors. During the early 1830s transportation of prisoners to Australia was at its prime. Prisoners were left in isolation to read the bible and learn the virtues. In the early 1850s the colonists in Australia objected to their land being filled with prisoners which lead to the end of the transportation. Punishment and Courts The end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century brought large changes in how the justice system was run.
Religious to Liberal Come the end of the 19th century, people we beginning to considered doctors and psychiatrists as just as important if not more important as chaplains and priests, when it came to understanding criminals. Criminals motives were beginning to be viewed through a scientific eye rather than a religious one. With this new view, Victorian liberals were bringing forth ideas of improvement and increasing the welfare of others. If the poor were helped then they would have no motive to steal. At the beginning of the 20th century people began to view criminals as more than just immoral humans. In 1895, the former Chairman of the Prison Commissioners for the past twenty years, Sir Edmund Du Cane, resigned. The Gladstone Committee published its report confirming the shift to a new liberal Penal Policy. The last of religious connections to the law were abolished. Prisoners were no longer forced to study the bible in prison, now that it was understood that some crimes were committed as an act of desperation rather than wanting to do evil. Also under the Penal Policy England decided to keep their death penalty unlike many other European countries. As a result England had low murder rates in comparison to other European countries.
What is the Gladstone Committee? search: http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-archive/committee-of-public-accounts/pachist/
More on Penal Policy: http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/victorians/crime_01.shtml
Army Court Martials With WWI beginning in 1914 army court martials were assigned to keep troops in check. Even though courts in England were becoming like modern day courts, army courts were taking a stricter route. If troops disobeyed their officer’s order to go “over the top,” then their punishment would be execution. The British law only allowed execution to be used in cases of murder or for traitors. The British army was an exception to these laws. On record 306 soldiers were executed desertion or cowardice, even though many were suffering from shellshock. During WWI a total of 3,000 men were sentenced to death in the British army courts. Other offenses besides cowardice were murder, espionage, and mutiny. Laws as an affect of WWII War time not only brought forth new laws for the soldiers but also the people at home. On August 24, 1939 the Emergency Power Act was put into play. It gave the government power to control, ships, aircrafts, and any land for military purpose. This act was enforced for public safety and to help the war cause. The act also benefited those injured during the war. Those who were injured or dependent on someone who was killed were given temporary pensions.
More about Emergency Power Act: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/6155078/World-War-2-New-laws-that-affect-every-citizen.html
Poster in 1829 of cheats and robbers Public Exacustion 1786 Newspaper describing a execution in 1828 Judges during a trial, 1758