Colonial Period of Criminal Justice: Lawyers Attorneys Essay

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¶ … Colonial Period of Criminal Justice: Lawyers

Attorneys fresh from law school during the Colonial Period of American history had no trouble finding jobs, according to a study in the University of North Carolina -- Pembroke (Langley, et all, 2001). Lawyers in those times were considered "the elite of society" and most of them graduated from Harvard College (today known as Harvard University). Young lawyers like Samuel Adams, James Otis and John Dickinson were trained in law prior to the American Revolution, and so they were obliged to "uphold British law," Langley writes, "…even though they disagreed with it." The fact that most of the colonies did not like lawyers is not a surprise, because lawyers were not doing things like representing clients for the most part; they were writing legislation, wills, and representing law enforcement.

Because of the vast socioeconomic differences between ordinary people and lawyers -- the average colonist was an "uneducated, unemployed male who felt he had been oppressed and cheated by the upper class elite in England" -- a definite gap existed for a long time. People who broke the law were punished in several ways in the Colonies. One, they were put in "stocks" (locked into a wooden framework with foot holes for the ankles); two they were put in a "pillory" (like stocks only holes for the head and hands); three, they were tied to whipping posts and given lashes in front of the public; and four, criminals were tided to a "ducking stool" (a chair dunked into water as punishment).

The U.S. History of Crime: Constantly Expanding Incarceration

There have been numerous "white collar crimes" and crimes involving international issues like drug smuggling and espionage crimes over the years; there have also been terrible crimes by pathological serial killers like Jeffrey Dahmer. But the crimes that have received the most public notice in the U.S. over the past one hundred or so years have been crimes like the St. Valentine's Day Massacre in Chicago. This was a gang war between illegal providers of alcohol, including Al Capone and others; on February 14, 1929, six men in a bootleg liquor warehouse were gunned down in cold blood in Chicago, which led to the killing of over 500 gangsters during the next few years.

Public Policy and Crime

There are so many laws on the books -- and so many people willing to break those laws -- in all 50 states that prisons have been filling up rapidly. William Spelman writes in the journal Crime and Justice that between the years 1980 to 2000, those 50 states doubled their prison capacity "then doubled it again, increasing their costs by more than $20 billion per year" (Spelman, 2000 p. 419-420). The good news is that cities and states have found better ways to fight crime rather than just throw people in prison. The jurisdictions have hired more judges, made certain they have more effective police departments and better-trained probation officers, Spelman continues. Along with community organizing against crime, and more public education, criminal justice systems are trying to stem the tide.

Since 9-11, the Executive Branch has Dominated Criminal Justice

The attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, changed the way top law enforcement behaves and gave the executive branch far more power and authority then the U.S. Constitution authorizes. Congress was quick to give George W. Bush anything he wanted that would supposedly prevent another terrorist attack, but the Bush Administration went well beyond its Constitutional powers.

According to research conducted by Concerned Citizens Against the Patriot Act (CCAPA), freedom of association has been compromised; the government may now "monitor religious and political institutions without suspecting criminal activity" or any evidence of probable cause to monitor. Freedom of information has changed under the Patriot Act: the federal… [END OF PREVIEW]

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APA Format

Colonial Period of Criminal Justice: Lawyers Attorneys.  (2009, March 31).  Retrieved January 19, 2020, from

MLA Format

"Colonial Period of Criminal Justice: Lawyers Attorneys."  31 March 2009.  Web.  19 January 2020. <>.

Chicago Format

"Colonial Period of Criminal Justice: Lawyers Attorneys."  March 31, 2009.  Accessed January 19, 2020.