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HISTORY 3JJ3 Crime&Punishment-Modern Hist

Academic Year: Fall 2016

Term: Fall

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. John Weaver

Email: jweaver@mcmaster.ca

Office: Chester New Hall 630

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 24135


Office Hours: Monday & Thursday 9:00 - 11:00

Course Objectives:

Objectives and Learning Opportunities:


This course provides a general understanding of the changing institu­tional arrangements that have characterized "western" criminal justice systems, primarily those of the English-speaking world, although there will be lectures that contrast these systems with those in continental Europe.  The course will consider the origins of courts, juries, laws of evi­dence, and police.  It will also look at periods of major change in forms of punish­ment and in criminal codes.  Besides providing a basic history of "western" criminal jus­tice, the cour­se will discuss interpretations of major ch­an­ges in institutional or­ganization.  For example, we will attempt to answer questions like these:  Why were pen­itentiaries a social-reform vogue in the first half of the nineteenth century?  What accounts for the different origins of national and local police forces in some countries?  When, where, and why have some police forces militarized?  What accounts for changing attitudes of political leaders and judges with respect to capital punishment?

            An important theme considers the long history of the uneasy relationship between in­formal or discretionary justice and fixed criminal codes.  Beyond the patterns of change noted in the paragraph above, the element of tension between two perceptions of criminal justice - informal and official - provides thematic continuity for this course.

            Other matters are considered. For example, how reliable is the statistical data which seems to demonstrate a decline in violence during the nineteenth century? More generally, what questions must we ask when reading any criminal just­ice statistics, modern and historical?  It is important to know how to treat crime data, because they have been and continue to be cited in debates about public safety and calls for more police or more severe penalties.  The course’s major assignment requires you to confront the challenges of interpreting data that you will generate.


How can you best learn from this course?  Your major assignment should provide you with opportunities to exercise your initiative and an occasion to explore, in detail, a topic from the course.  You should ask me questions during the lec­tures; all class periods are op­portunities for you to seek clarification.   The readings are extremely important, and shou­ld not be neglected.  They have been selected to complement lectures, and you cannot ignore either the lectures or the readings and do well in this course. 

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

The readings are extremely important, and shou­ld not be neglected.  They have been selected to complement lectures, and you cannot ignore either the lectures or the readings and do well in this course.  The following books must be read; students will be expected to know the contents for examination purposes.


      - Courseware articles prepared for 3JJ3, 2015 edition.

      - J. Sharpe, Crime in Early Modern England, 1550-1750

      - C. Emsley, Crime and Society in England, 1750-1900

      - Stuart Banner, The Death Penalty: An American History

      - Michael Boudreau, City of Order: Crime and Society in Halifax, 1918-35         

Your major assignment requires the use of oldbaileyonline.  Note that on the left side menu there are headings that lead to a glossary of terms and a bibliography.  These could be useful for your major assignment. 

Method of Assessment:

Calculation of Final Grade:        


Two short assignments on readings:   10% (5% each)

Report on Stuart Banner’s book:        10%

Report on Boudreau                           10%     

Research Assignment:                        35% (The MSAF does not apply to assignments of more than 25%)

Exam:                                          35%                                          


            To pass this course, all term work must be completed by the end of the final class unless there is a medical exemption submitted prior to the last class and the instructor’s agreement to an extension. To pass this course, the final examination mark must be no lower than 40%.  No assignments will be accepted as e-mail attachments; printed copies only are accepted.


            The instructor and university reserve the right to modify elements of the course during the term. The university may change the dates and deadlines for any or all courses in extreme circumstances. If either type of modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. It is the responsibility of the student to check their McMaster email weekly during the term and to note any changes.


Banner Assignment: 23 September.

Major Essay: 17 October.

Hay, King, and Thompson: 19 October.

Boudreau: 21 November.

Evans and Ignatieff: 24 November.

Assignment: The Courseware Readings:


These readings are organized into five sections, but the first section which raises several basic issues is for back­ground reading, and will be mentioned in initial lectures.  The remaining four sections (medieval crime in England, crime and order in eighteenth century England, the police, the penitentiary) will be discussed in tutorial sessions (see agenda of lectures and tutorials).  Additionally, at the beginning of the class discussions for the eigh­teenth century and for the penitentiary readings students must submit a 200 word state­ment (one double-spaced page with a word count specified) on what they regard as the one major theme arising from the readings.  The selection of the theme is up to each student, but it must be justified; the intro­ductory statements and questions in the courseware package will provide guidance.  Each of these brief assignments will be marked for style and content, and the marks will be worth 10% of the final grade (5% for each). 


Assignment: Stuart Banner’s The Death Penalty: An American History.


This 1000 word assignment is due on 20 January.  Students will prepare a well-written and well-documented (quotes and proper footnotes) report on a specific topic allocated to them on the basis of their student number.  The entire book will have to be read in order to prepare an adequate answer; quotes and citations from throughout the book will be expected.  This assignment will introduce some basic concepts and practices found in common law systems.


  1. For students whose student number ends in 1, 2, 3 or 4:  Describe and explain the importance of the executive act of clemency, the politics of clemency, the diverse grounds for clemency, and its demise in recent times. 
  2. For students whose number ends in 5, 6, or 7: Describe and explain the reasons for the contrasting duration and intensity of legal proceedings (length of trial, amount of litigation; time between trial and execution of sentence) found in different eras in American history.
  3. For students whose number ends in 8, 9 or 0: Describe the changes in capital punishment covered in this book, specifically with reference to the number of capital offences on statute books and forms of execution including their location.  Explain the changes in number of capital offences and forms and places of execution in terms of profound developments in European and American cultural and intellectual life over three hundred years.   



Assignment: Michael Boudreau, City of Order: Crime and Society in Halifax, 1918-35



This 1000 word assignment is due on 3 March.  Students will prepare a well-written and well-documented (quotes and proper footnotes) report on a specific topic allocated to them on the basis of their student number.  The entire book will have to be read in order to prepare an adequate answer; quotes and citations from throughout the book will be expected.   This assignment will mesh with lectures on policing.


  1. For students whose number ends in 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5:  Describe how the disciplinary strategies found in Halifax (and common to many other places as well) operated with respect to diverse segments of the city’s population. 


  1. For students whose number ends in 6, 7, 8, 9 or 0: Describe how the disciplinary strategies found in Halifax were both a product of widespread criminal justice and punishment practices of the era but also a product on the city’s social and economic state at the time.


The Criteria for Grading Assignments



Style, organization, and grammar are important factors, and we take them into ac­count when grading. We will look for evidence that the sources have been used to the fullest extent and understood.


Major Assignment: Read Carefully and Adhere to the Requirements


            The assignment that accounts for 35% of your final mark requires that you use a remarkable web-based source, namely the Old Bailey (a London central court building) sessions papers, that is pamphlets written for popular consumption and for reference by legal professionals.  Over 190,000 of these from 1667 to 1913 have been digi­tized and made searchable by a very user friendly page maintained by the Univers­ity of Sheffiel­d: www.oldbailyonline.org/history/crime. The records are not a complete set of all cases tried at the Old Bailey.  Furthermore, the court reporters and publishers who produced the pamphlets embellished and/or deleted information to make lively or concise publications.  Pamphlets were written in prose calculated to sell copies, and authors took libert­ies with the words of parties in­volved. 


            Nevertheless, patterns across many years or sudden changes in the number of cases tried for a specific crime likely signal a social or legal upheaval, a series of events that disturbed the government, or a recent law that defined a new crime.  The essential facts in a case have been coded.  Thus specific crimes can be selected and studied in relations to changes over time (number of cases per year), verdict, gender, and punishment.  Cross-tabulations can be ‘instantly’ produced: for example, the number of men as compared with women who are charged with a specific crime; number or percentage of convicted men or women found guilty of said crime by year.  The variations on cross-tabulation are extensive and part of your task is to select cross-tabulations that seem most interesting and revealing to you.  You must make the research decisions. 


            It is possible to write pa­pers on specific crimes (for example theft, riot, and assault) over a long period of time.  Interesting papers can also be written on lesser known crimes that reveal a lot about the society: blasphemy, seditious words, and returning from transportation.  The web page has abundant commentary on terms and there are bibliographic references.  Also, you will have to use two of the required books for the course to help you interpret the data that you have generated: James Sharpe, Crime in Early Modern England, 1550-1750 and Clive Emsley, Crime and Society in England, 1750-1900


            For the assignment, select two very different crimes.  Prepare tables (between 2 and 6) and graphs (between 2 and 6) for each crime and include them in the essay.  Discuss the patterns that the tables and graphs appear to reveal; offer a plausible explanation for the patterns using secondary literature beginning with Sharpe and Emsley.   You may want to add some details from several reports in order to explain the nature of the crime.  Finally, add notes of caution about the inadequate or biased nature of the source material and suggest questions that remain unanswered due to the character of the sources.  


            Your work must be original.  If you see papers by others who have used these materials, you may cite them as references but plagiarism will not be tolerated.  Also, it will be useful to read the essay by Clive Emsley, Tim Hitchcock and Robert Shoemaker, "The Proceedings - The Value Of the Proceedings as a Historical Source", Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org).  This is available on the oldbaileyonline web page in the section labelled “About the Proceedings.”  The authors comment on omissions and the need for care when using the material.    


            The minimum word count is 3500; the maximum is 5000.  The word count is exclusive of graphs and tables.  


            In the third class (the tutorial period) of the third week of classes, I will spend the class period showing how to access and use oldbaileyonline.  Students will sign an attendance sheet for that class.  These instructions will not be repeated.    ­      

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Penalties for Overdue Work


            Overdue assignments will be penalized five marks out of one hundred for each day (including weekends) that they are over deadlines without permis­sion (ie. five days late equals a loss of twenty-five marks).  MSAF extensions are not granted automatically nor extended retroactively.

Extensions and Accommodations


     Extensions or other accommodations will be determined by the instructor (JW) and will only be considered if supported by appropriate documentation.  Absences of up to three days may be reported using the McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF) at www.mcmaster.ca/msaf/. If you are unable to use the MSAF, you should document the absence with your faculty office.  In all cases, it is YOUR responsibility to follow up with the instructor immediately to see if an extension or other accommodation will be granted, and what form it will take. There are NO automatic extensions or accommodations with the MSAF.  In this course, please note that there are penalties for overdue work without a prior formal extension or accommodation.


            Please note the statement on overdue work that appears in an earlier section of this course outline.

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at www.mcmaster.ca/academicintegrity

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at mcmaster.ca/msaf/. If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail sas@mcmaster.ca. For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:

Sequence of Lectures and Tutorials

Lectures, Tutorial Discussions, and Assignment Deadlines:


Week 1: Lecture on 7 September; Tutorial for everyone on 9 September.

: Introduction of course materials.

: What is crime?

: What is criminal justice history? 

: Tutorial Discussion of Curti­s, Gurr, and Walk­er in the courseware (CW).


Week 2: Lectures on 12 and 14 September.  No tutorial on 16 September

: Continuation of discussion of “what is a crime?”

: The Analysis of Criminal Justice Statistics.  For your notes read Emsley chapter 2.

: The Roots of Continental and English Justice.


Week 3: Lectures 19 and 21 September.  Tutorial for everyone on 23 January: the use of oldbaileyonline.

: Submit Banner assignment on 23 September.

: Law Enforcement in Early Modern England.

: Law Enforcement, Courts, Punishments.




Week 4: Lectures on 26 and 28 September.  Tutorial on 30 September for A to L last names A to L.

 Tutorial on 30 September class discussion on medieval crime and justice.


: Law Enforcement, Courts, Punishments in Early Modern Europe.

: Tutorial discussion of Hanawalt and Robinson.  Hanawalt and Robinson in CW.  For back­ground and to fill out material from the lectures also read Sharpe chapters 2,3,4,5. 


Week 5:  Lectures 3 October and 5 October. Tutorial on 7 October; last names M to Z  

Tutorial on 7 October class discussion on medieval crime and justice.    

 : The Search for Truth in Continental Justice.

 : Torture and the Search for Truth.

 : The Origins of the Jury and the Search for the Guilty Party in English Criminal Justice.

: Read Sharpe chapters 6,7 and 8 for your notes.

: Tutorial discussion of Hanawalt and Robinson.  Hanawalt and Robinson in CW.  For back­ground and to fill out material from the lectures also read Sharpe chapters 2,3,4,5.


Week 6: 10, 12, 14 October Fall Recess.


No classes.  Work on Research Paper; in the courseware. read John Langbein, Origins of the Adversarial Trial Chapter 5.  It explains how the leading parties and practices of the Common Law criminal trial evolved.  You will find that the information helps to explain some of the occurrences at the Old Bailey.  I will be looking for your footnotes reference to Langbein in the Old Bailey assignment.


Week 7: Lectures 17 October and 19 October. Tutorial 21 October discussion on ‘mercy;’ last names A to L).

: Submit Research Paper on 17 October.  Submit Hay, King and Thompson assignment on 19 October.

: Discretionary Justice in History.

: Discretionary Justice and its Critics.

: Criminal Justice in Colonial North America

: Tutorial discussion on Hay, King and Thompson.





Week 8: Lectures 24 and 26 October. Tutorial on 28 October class discussion on ‘mercy;’ students last name M to Z.  

: The Origins of Policing in France and Elsewhere in Continental Europe.

: Tutorial discussion on Hay, King and Thompson.


Week 9: Lectures on 31 and 2 November. No tutorial on 4 November.


: The Great Transformation: Key Features

: The Call for Exact Criminal Codes.

: Read Emsley chapters 9 and 10, for background on policing.


Week 10: Lectures 7 November and 9 November.  No tutorial on 11 November.

: Capital Punishment on the Continent; Abolition on the Continent.

: The Reform of the Bloody Code in England.


Week 11: Lectures 14 November and 16 November. Tutorial discussion of penitentiary 18 November for students last name A to L.

: Submit assignment.  Evans and Ignatieff in CW on 14 November.

: The Invention of the Penitentiary.

: Historians assess the Penitentiary.

: Tutorial Discussion of Evans and Ignatieff.


Week 12:  Lectures 21 November and 23 November. Tutorial class discussion of penitentiary 25 November for students last name M to Z.

: Submit assignment: Boudreau on 21November.

: The Advent of ‘Modern’ Policing.

: The origins of criminology.

: Tutorial Discussion of Evans and Ignatieff.


Week 13: Lectures 28 November and 30 November; 2 and 5 December review.      

: Developments in Criminal Justice: The Evolution of the Common Law Trial

: Course review.



Other Course Information:

Contacting the Instructor:

        You may ask questions by e-mail at jweaver@mcmaster­.ca or arrange for a meeting.  All e-mail messages must be sent using your McMaster e-mail address. Your questions and my answers may be circulated to the rest of the class for the benefit of all students. No assignments will be accepted as e-mail attachments.  Thank you.