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The Social History of Crime and Punishment in America

The Social History of Crime and Punishment in America
An Encyclopedia

Five Volume Set
Edited by:

August 2012 | 2 712 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
Several encyclopedias overview the contemporary system of criminal justice in America, but full understanding of current social problems and contemporary strategies to deal with them can come only with clear appreciation of the historical underpinnings of those problems. Thus, this five-volume work surveys the history and philosophy of crime, punishment, and criminal justice institutions in America from colonial times to the present. It covers the whole of the criminal justice system, from crimes, law enforcement and policing, to courts, corrections and human services. Among other things, this encyclopedia: explicates philosophical foundations underpinning our system of justice; charts changing patterns in criminal activity and subsequent effects on legal responses; identifies major periods in the development of our system of criminal justice; and explores in the first four volumes - supplemented by a fifth volume containing annotated primary documents - evolving debates and conflicts on how best to address issues of crime and punishment. Its signed entries in the first four volumes--supplemented by a fifth volume containing annotated primary documents--provide the historical context for students to better understand contemporary criminological debates and the contemporary shape of the U.S. system of law and justice.

"This excellent work will be valuable for a wide range of users for assignments or general interest in public and academic libraries."

Arthur Meyers

This addition to the crowded field of reference literature on crime is a notable improvement over similar titles...


A series of extended essays by period complemented by primary documents make this an excellent classroom resource.

Library Journal
Key features
  • Although organized A-to-Z, entries also are grouped according to a Reader's Guide in the front matter, with thematic groupings that include evolving constructions of criminality; changing patterns of crime and criminal activity; police training and the professionalization of law enforcement; courts (from the Salem witch trials, to Wild West justice, to the OJ Simpson trial, to today); changing conceptions of prisons and corrections (for instance, punishment vs rehabilitation) and the evolution of penitentiaries; major legislation and court cases; biographies; crime statistics across time; organized crime in different time periods; major periods in the development of the American system of criminal justice; etc.
  • All entries are signed and conclude with suggestions for further readings to guide users to more in-depth, primary sources.
  • The entire work is available in both print and electronic formats.
  • The thematic Reader's Guide, along with Cross-References at the ends of entries, a detailed Index, and robust Search-and-Browse features in the electronic version, make it easy for students to search for specific and related topics.
  • Helpful appendices include a Chronology offering concise, visual timelines of American legal history, and a Resource Guide to books, journals, societies and web sites, a Glossary, and Tables and Data (e.g., historical crime statistics link guide).
  • The fifth volume tells the story of crime and punishment in America through approximately 170 selected, annotated primary source documents (speeches, letters, reports, legislation, court decisions) excerpted for key points.

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ISBN: 9781483305936

ISBN: 9781412988766

This title is also available on SAGE Knowledge, the ultimate social sciences online library. If your library doesn’t have access, ask your librarian to start a trial.