Crime and Punishment


Our topic for this paper is Crime and Punishment. There are 
several different issues on this subject. We chose three main points 
to talk about: The Crimes, the People who solved them, and the 
different types of punishments. These are the topics we chose for our 

 Crime in the nineteeth century was rapid though out London. 
But because of all of the poverty and sickness in the streets, crime 
was the only way to survive. Most of the crimes that took place in 
London were crimes that involved stealing. Pickpocket gangs and 
street gamblers were a regular sight when walking down a major London 
street. Prostitution was also a big money maker on the streets, done 
by both girls and boys. But crimes though out the middle class and 
rich were mostly property crimes and disputes which made up 90% of all 
crimes committed by the upper-class. In Victorian England and like 
today there a two categories which crimes fall under. "Indictable" 
which is the same as our felony crimes that make up all of the major 
crimes. These crimes consist of: Murder, armed robbery, burglary, 
larceny, rape, and assaults on the police. The next called category 
is called " Summery " crimes which is equal to our misdemeanor crimes. 
Summery crimes were all minor crimes such as: Property crimes, 
Vagrancy, Drunkenness, Prostitution, Minor Larceny , and all other 
minor offenses. 

 Probably the most famous criminal in the Victorian period 
was " Jack the Ripper ". Jack the Ripper was " the first modern sexual 
serial killer" ( Sugden, pg.2) Jack's trademark was the killing of 
female prostitutes. But not only did he kill them, he would 
surgically remove organs and intrails and place them near the dead 
body. "Jack the Ripper" wasn't his only nickname, he was also called " 
the Whitechaple murder " because the body's were found near the 
Whitechapel Road, and " The Leather Apron" because of a man that would 
come by and beat up the prostitutes for no reason. Jack the Ripper is 
credited for 9 killings, but police think that he might be responsible 
for more. All of the killing accrued with in one square mile. Jack 
is described as carrying a long knife in which he would cut open his 
victims, and a black Gladstone bag, the contents of which is unknown. 
( Sugden, pg.1) Jack the Ripper's identity is unknown which is 
probably why this case is so famous. It is rumored that Jack the 
Ripper was a member of the royal family, and that people knew of his 
identity but wanted to keep it a secret. 

 The London Metropolitan Police system was created in 1829, 
after the public need for security has been told to the government. 
The Police Department consisted of 3000 policemen. The Policeman then 
were poorly paid. A constable's usual pay was 19 shillings, a week. 
An inspector got around 2 pounds, and some of that money was taken 
off for the cost of there uniform. There uniform was a blue tail coat 
with there number and letter of their division on the collar and hat. 
There only weapon was a short wooden baton. The government had a hard 
time finding recruits. Most of there men were old soldiers, and many 
of them were dismissed from the force for drunkenness. Later on the 
force started to become a real Police force, and the people of London 
appreciated it. The officers also were given many nicknames such as: 
Blue devils, peeler, and bobby. In 10 years the London Metropolitan 
Police Force cut the number of crimes in London by half. The crimes in 
Victorian England did not go without it's punishments. In early 
Victorian England Public hanging's were watched by many people, and 
the stocks were placed in the center of town where people would look 
at you and even beat you and humiliated you. But in 1838 the ending 
of all public tortures and executions gave way and became out lawed.

 These things lead to the building of prisons. In 1730 the 
prisons were at there worst and were not made for long term offenders. 
 These prisons were so bad because they were privately owned and the 
owners used the inmates for working purposes. They also shipped these 
men to other businesses for money paid to the prisons by the 
companies who needed cheap workers. The prisons lacked sewage and 
heat which made for horrible working conditions sometimes deadly 
working conditions.

 The prisoners life was a horrible one. They worked fourteen 
hours a day taking only short breaks for lunch and dinner. You only 
got lunch and dinner if you had money to pay for it or unless someone 
gave you some of their food or a visitor gave you some food. It was 
awful because these prisons were there to make money through any way 
they could by having inmates pay to get there shackles off or paying 
for a private room or for a room with your friend it was usually a 
pretty bad room but it was still better than the others. Due to the 
new law of no more public hangings there was a great amount of over 
population. This over population meant trouble for the prisoners 
because the prisoners who really didn't commit bad crimes were killed 
in jail by the guards. So now the prisoners who went to jail were 
there to be executed or if they weren't there for that it would mean 
they were shipped to factories, Australia or new prisons set up the 
Queen or King of England. It's a shame these men women and children 
were so mistreated over such little crimes but it made the crime rate 
go down. ( Mitchell pg's 638-41 )


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