Getting Away with Murder
American Historical Review, Vol. 111, No.1, pp. 95-103, 2006
10 Pages Posted: 11 Jul 2009
Date Written: 2006
The historically high homicide rates in the United States have often been treated as an evidence of a violent national character. This article suggests that those rates should be considered from a different perspective, one that looks not only at rates of homicide but also at the lenient way the criminal justice system treated many homicide cases. What was it about American justice that led juries acquit so often? Why did juries or judges sentence convicted killers more leniently than law required? This article looks at some 19th century cases from South Carolina to raise some questions for future research.
Keywords: criminal justice, class, criminal jury, jury nullification, extralegal justice, criminal trials, legal history, rule of law, law and society
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation