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Tag Archives: Criminal Justice System – America

Special Announcement: Forthcoming Book, Early American Criminals

It has been a long time since I have posted on this website, but that is because I have been hard at work writing my next book. Now, I am thrilled to announce the forthcoming publication of Early American Criminals: An American Newgate Calendar, Chronicling the Lives of the Most Notorious Criminal Offenders from Colonial […]

Prisons and Punishments: The Crank Mill

The punishment of forcing convicts to step on a treadmill–a large, long rotating cylinder with steps attached along the outside–failed to take hold in America, even though England used it successfully for years in its prisons. Proponents of the punishment argued that the treadmill turned prisoners into productive citizens by making them work and provide […]

Prisons and Punishments: The Failure of the Treadmill in America

In 1822, when the American press began to circulate articles praising the use of a new invention in England that would instill fear in convicted felons and turn them into productive citizens, politicians, prison officials, and the press in America took notice. The invention was a treadmill, a large, long cylinder equipped with steps that […]

Prisons and Punishments: Inventive Ways to Cut Prison Costs

Cutting government budgets is on the minds of almost everyone nowadays. All levels of government seem to have empty coffers and are looking for new ways to save money in the midst of persistent societal needs. This situation is prompting many state governments to reexamine how they punish their criminals and to look for creative […]

Early American Criminals: The Mother of the Infant in the Well

On Saturday morning, August 11, 1739, a female infant was discovered in a well near the outskirts of Portsmouth, NH. Warrants were immediately issued, and a search was conducted to find the mother who presumably had murdered the baby. By the afternoon, officers focused their attention on Sarah Simpson, a 27 year-old widow. Neighbors believed […]

Special Announcement: My New Book on Convict Transportation Is Now Available

My new book, Bound with an Iron Chain: The Untold Story of How the British Transported 50,000 Convicts to Colonial America, has just been published by Pickpocket Publishing and is available for purchase. I hope you enjoy reading it. Amazon.com: Paperback ($16.99) and Kindle ($4.99). Smashwords: All e-book formats ($4.99). The book will soon be […]

In the Media: Recent Crime-Related Blog Articles

Some notable crime-related blog articles have appeared over the last week or so. Ben Ruset of the NJPineBarrens has written a fascinating article on Captain John Bacon, a notorious outlaw who took advantage of the American Revolutionary War to commit robbery and burglary in the New Jersey Pine Barrens. ExecutedToday.com notes the execution of Thomas […]

Crime and Prison Songs: “John Henry”

“Take My Hammer” is a work song that possibly has roots going back to the time of slavery and was sung by convicts who were leased to dig tunnels through the Appalachian Mountains: Take my hammer, Carry it to the captain, Tell him I’m gone, Tell him I’m gone. If he ask you was […]

Early American Criminals: Mistaken Identities in the Robbery of John “Ready Money” Scott

George Burns made one last desperate attempt to save himself: he wrote to the Attorney-General and named Ephraim Jones and Arthur Sykes as accomplices in a robbery that he had actually helped to pull off with three different men on July 29, 1766. The victim of the robbery, John “Ready Money” Scott, had mistakenly fingered […]

Crime and Prison Songs: “Prettiest Train”

From the 1870’s to the 1920’s, some Southern states contracted their convicts out to private landowners and companies to perform heavy labor, such as timbering, mining, railroad work, and farming. Little to no concern was given to the prisoners’ safety or health, and they received inadequate food, shelter, and clothing. Because the convicts belonged […]