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The Unwritten Law: Criminal Justice in…
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The Unwritten Law: Criminal Justice in Victorian Kent

by Carolyn A. Conley

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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0195063384, Hardcover)

The Unwritten Law examines the values and assumptions of mid-Victorian England as revealed in the actual workings of the criminal justice system. The working definitions of criminality and justice were often influenced more by certain tacit assumptions than by the written law. Through a careful study of the ways that the status and circumstances of victims and suspects influenced judicial decisions, Conley provides important new insights into Victorian attitudes toward violence, women, children, community, and the all-important concept of respectability. She also addresses issues that continue to be of concern in today's society: How can equal justice be preserved when social and economic conditions and expectations are not equal? How can the rights of the accused be reconciled with those of victims--especially children? Can and should the courts interfere with the traditions of family and community? What standards can determine the criminality of a particular act and the justice and efficacy of punishment? This original analysis will hold special interest for students and scholars of British history, social history, and criminality and the law.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:34 -0400)

In the 1870s, a Kentish woman who had been repeatedly beaten by her lover retaliated by blinding him with sulphuric acid. The judge sentenced her to five years in prison. In contrast, a man who put out the eyes of a woman who left him was sentenced to only four months after telling the judge that he 'was regularly drove to do it from her aggravation'. Making innovative use of court and police records, Carolyn Conley has written a lively account of criminal justice in Victorian England. She examines the gap between the formal laws and the unwritten law of the community, as well as the ways in which judges, juries, and police officers acted as mediators between the two. The book analyses the treatment of lawbreakers according to class, gender, and community status, and in so doing presents a vivid portrait of standards of propriety and justice at the time.… (more)

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